Teach Children How To Cook

Personal sharings of Chef Peter Pang on How To Lead Your Child To Healthy Eating

How To Turn Junk-Food Eating Kids to Healthy Eating Kids

Posted by Peter Pang on August 16, 2008

How to Turn Junk-Food Eating Kids to Healthy Eating Kids

You are probably thinking that eating healthily is an idea that just won’t work with your kids. After all, they love their chips, cookies, popsicles, sweets, fried chicken, fried nuggets and soft drinks. Or is the real stumbling block yourself? You are afraid you can’t do it successfully. Well, you are not alone, friend. If I can do it, so can you. Let me share with you a phrase that I learned from the Money & You Program.

In order for things to change, first I must change.

Here are some Tips for Changing

  1. Set a Good Example Young children often mimic what they see. They observe what you do, and most importantly, what you eat, so parents should set an example by eating healthy food. Let your children know that you love the flavour and the juiciness of a starfruit. There is no need to push the “it’s good for you” message. Let them discover that message for themselves and share it with you.

  2. Avoid Eating the Same Dishes Repeatedly It is very important for everyone to eat a variety of foods. Adding variety to your meals can spark interest in a new food for your child and provide a source of a wider range of nutrients.

  3. Don’t Use Junk Chips as Bargaining Chips – Never use food as a reward for good behaviour or good grades, or take away food as a punishment. Linking food to your child’s behaviour will only make things worse and lead to eating issues later in life.

  4. Change What You Stock in Your Pantry – If your pantry has ready access to junk food, or sugary, salty and high-fat snacks, it is going to make healthy eating even more difficult. Gradually replace some snack chips with baked chips and buy smaller packs or less of these high-fat items. Instead, keep a supply of healthy alternatives on hand, such as having fruits and yogurt in your fridge.

  5. Hide Unpopular Food Inside Popular Food Try adding fruits, vegetables and whole grain into your child’s favourite recipes. Try adding carrots, spinach, red capsicum and broccoli into dishes. Try cutting or grating vegetables into small pieces and adding them to meatballs, meatloaf, burgers, pasta sauce. Eat brown rice or unpolished rice rather than white rice. Try adding fruits to desserts, topping ice creams with fresh papaya, cakes with strawberry or cheese cake with fresh fruits. Gradually, your kids will accept other changes in the future.

  6. Take It Slowly – Changing your kid’s eating habits doesn’t need to happen overnight. Give it some time; make changes gradually over months and the process will go more smoothly. For example, you can plan to add extra fruits to this week’s menu and add extra vegetables to next week’s menu. Repetition will, one day, turn into life long habits.

  7. Drink More Water Water is the best liquid you can give to your body. It is cheap and calorie-free, and is also a better choice for rehydrating active kids. Fresh fruit juice should be taken moderately by a child as fruit juices tend to have a high concentration of sugar.

  8. Turn Eating Fruits and Vegetables Into a Game – The United States Department Of Agriculture (USDA) in year 2005 recommended six to eight servings of fruits and vegetables in a day. One serving is about half a cup. Set a goal with your child. If she can successfully take three servings a day, then target five servings. Write down on a board and keep track of her performance and give rewards such as a family outing or a new book.

  9. Give Your Child Control Over the Food They Eat – Kids need to feel they have some control over the foods they eat, so involve them in the decision making process. Sit down and plan with them a list of snacks or lunch choices that are healthy. If decision making is a challenge to them, let them choose between two or three options, such as grapes, yogurt or a pear.

  10. Encourage Others to Help Discuss healthy food choices served in the school canteen with the school board. Arrange with your day care provider to provide healthy snacks to the children. Toddlers and preschoolers are always willing to accept new foods when presented in a relaxed environment.

  11. Introducing New Foods and Flavours – Every time you say “Today I have cooked something special,” your child will be suspicious of this new offering and might reject it. Here are some tips to introducing new foods and flavours to your child. Add a small amount of a new vegetable or fruit to an existing food that they like. Give a new dish a silly name. For example, Honey Hummy Salad, Daddy’s Sport Car, Silly Willy Bun, Ocean 5 Meat, Sponge Jack Cake, etc.

  12. Let your child help you in preparing a new dish – encourage your child to try a new food while you are working together in the kitchen. Keep making nutritious food available until your children are willing to taste them. Introduce the one-bite rule: Everyone has to have one bite of a new food before they are allowed to reject it. Any time you serve a new food to your child, place only a small amount on their plate. If they like it, add some more. And if they don’t, just remove the food from their plate. At this time, put on your thinking cap to find ways to hide these nutritious food that your child had rejected into their normal meal. Handle the introduction of new food in a calm, reassuring way. Avoid making a big deal out of it and never insist that your child finish everything on her plate.

Hope you like this article and do recommend it to your friends.

Tomorrow, I will talk about how to develop good eating habits in your child.

Cheers

Peter Pang

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