You know it’s important for your kids to eat the right stuff, but it can be easier said than done when they refuse to eat anything green ¬– well, unless it’s some sort of chemical-looking fizzy drink, that is.
But there are ways to help them grow up with a healthy attitude towards good food and the importance of eating well. These five pointers should get you all moving in the right direction.
1. Be ingredients-savvy
Food manufacturers are clever – they employ a whole host of tricks to fool parents into thinking their brand is healthy when they’re often anything but.
Check the packaging – sugar comes in many forms but, as a rule, any ingredient that ends in ‘ose’ (such as dextrose, sucrose or fructose) is added sugar, as is corn syrup.
Choose snacks with a short, recognisable list of ingredients. This means food is less processed and contains fewer additives, which is better for your kids’ oral health, too.
To help with this, brushing with an Oral-B Kids Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush removes bacteria and prevents build-up of plaque more efficiently than a manual brush. Plus, a choice of fun character designs mean that your child will love using it.
When in doubt, choose fresh fruit – but don’t overdo it, as although it’s good for us, fruit does contain sugar. Aim for a couple of pieces a day and combine with a handful of non-salted, non-sugared nuts, if age-appropriate.
Having fruit with a source of healthy fat slows down the release of these sugars, sparing your little muncher an energy crash later on.
2. Get your kids involved
Provide them with a variety of mum-approved ingredients, get their aprons on and let your little chefs create their own healthy snack bowls.
Mixed berries, chopped apple and soft fruit, such as kiwi or mango, are great options – complete with a dollop of plain Greek or natural yoghurt, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of chopped nuts.
Older children will love to make fruit kebabs – just thread chunks of chopped fruit on to wooden skewers or straws. You may even want to invest in a frozen dessert maker, which can make frozen fruit into delicious sorbets the whole family will love.
3. Get back to nature
Make snack time into a learning game by providing a selection of healthy snacks and asking your children where they come from – do they grow from the ground or can you pick them from a plant? Does it come from an animal, and if so, which one?
You could use carrot sticks, chopped cucumber and bell peppers, chunks of cheese, sliced hard-boiled eggs and dips such a hummus. It’s a delicious way of learning all about where food comes from, and these savoury options are kinder to kids’ teeth.
Find out more foods that your teeth love – and hate – by clicking here.
4. Bake it yourself
An afternoon of baking can be healthy, as long as it’s a do-it-yourself affair. Okay, so there’s butter and honey or syrup in homemade granola bars, but they also contain oats, which are a great source of fibre and important minerals essential for health. They fill up hungry tummies and provide lots of energy.
Because they’re homemade, there are no added nasties, and you get to exercise a little portion control. Store-bought snacks are often large, and contain a lot of calories. Slice your goodies into bite-sized pieces and you get a satisfying snack for a fraction of the calories.
5. Lead by example
Start the days off well by preparing a healthy breakfast and you will all be inspired to continue eating well throughout the day.
Also, show your kids how much you enjoy the healthy snacks they’ve created. That way, even when you’re not around to guide them, they’ll be more likely to reach for something healthier.
And don’t worry about being completely sin-free. A drizzle of melted chocolate over fruit kebabs means they won’t feel they’re missing out and teaches them the importance of a healthy, balanced diet – if they eat well most of the time, you can let a little naughtiness sneak through…
We’d love to hear about how you get your kids to choose healthy snacks – share your ideas and comments in the section below.