Written by Denise K. Livotti – www.PetitsChefsAcademy.com
1) Remember our children are what we eat – before and after they are born!
Pre & post baby you are what you eat and so are your children. A baby will have gotten a taste for what Mom has been eating throughout her pregnancy. So what we eat during baby’s gestation is the first step in creating and raising a healthy eater. We also believe, monkey see, monkey do. Therefore, if we lead by example and our children see us eating wholesome, fresh, real food so they too will gravitate to real food.
2) Cook & eat as many meals at home together as possible.
This is a sure fire (gas or electric – no pun intended) way in ensuring that you’re creating an environment around food that is valuable and joyful, together as a family. A family that cooks and eats together is a family that stays together. If parents are putting importance on the food at the table then so will the children. Parents don’t be scared in getting your children to help in the kitchen. Assign simple tasks from the youngest to the oldest. It’s great that they help set and clear the table, but they also need to get hands-on with the food that they’re eating. The only way to get them engaged is to get them to help you cook it. If you’re concerned with safety, the mess or learning proper cooking skills via a professional then please look us up, www.PetitsChefsAcademy.com, that is what we do, we have certified Chefs, ECE’s and Nutritionists on staff to handle all your needs through fun, educational, curriculum based programming. We offer on-site and off-site events, for schools, private such as Bridal Showers, Baby Showers, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and corporate, PLUS Birthday Parties, Camps, PA Days, Workshops, Special Needs and Nutrition Counselling.
3) Pack healthy lunches & snacks high in fruits and veggies, low in dairy, meat and processed carbohydrates.
If you start lunches and snacks off right, from first day, entry into kindergarten, then you’ve started to pave the way to successful lunch and snack time eating. Children get used to what they see and to what they have available to them in their lunch box. If you pack colorful fruits and veggies with lots of variety and options then that is what they’ll know and will grow up eating. I usually pack two options of fruit and two options of veggies per day (sometimes even three) if there are extra-curricular activities right after school. If you give them very little options and those being pre-packaged, processed items then that is what they grow up thinking is normal and the right thing to be eating. The fast, quick, convenient way is not the good or healthy way. Take a little extra time in the evening, before going to bed to peel carrots, chop up apples and oranges into wedges making it easier for little fingers to grab and eat, throw in a salad with their favourite dressing and source healthy snacks low in sodium, sugar and trans-fats. You’ll be securing a lifetime of healthy, happy eaters. Their bodies and minds fuelled for a full day of learning and a lifetime of health, it’s worth the extra time, don’t you think.
4) Encourage children to help plan menus and select foods.
Kids that are active in the kitchen, helping Mom, Dad or both in preparing, selecting and having a voice in the decision making of menus and foods are more likely to eat what they’ve taken part in making, preparing or choosing. Allow them the freedom of expression through the very food they’ll be eating, so when out at the grocery store have them select their favourite fruits and veggies and direct them to healthier snack choices by reading through the ingredients list and scoring the nutrition labels. Children even as young as 2/3 years old will see Mommy and Daddy taking extra time looking at and reading the labels and will come to learn that this is important to do when sourcing healthful foods for their livelihood.
5) Serve colorful foods and expose, expose, expose!
Usually colour means health, eat the colour of the rainbow, this is true when it comes to fresh, real food such as veggies and fruits, but not so when boxed, pre-prepared. Usually color on a box is served as a marketing tool to get kids and adults more interested. The more colour the more attention grabbing it is. Then add a cartoon figure such as Dora, Swiper or Sponge Bob and the food industry has you wrapped, just like a fruit roll up! Be careful of these gimmicks, they don’t have your health at heart, nor your children’s.
Then there are the “limited” or “selective” eaters, I don’t like calling them “picky” eaters, the term picky is negative and does not allow the child the opportunity to explore their food identity. What child under 5 is not, at some point, selective with the foods they will or will not eat? If you are introducing a new food item and it does not go favourably, remember that a child needs to be exposed to that food between 10-15 times before he/she will accept it. So don’t give up the good food fight, keep at it, one day it’ll click.
6) Have a snack tray with small amounts of healthy options for grazing all day long.
When my children where younger this was a fantastic little tool, I would take a muffin tin and in each tin I would add different snacks/items from fresh fruit/veggies (cut up in little pieces big enough for little hands) to whole crackers, pieces of bite sized cheese, dried fruit and nuts (luckily my children have no allergies). They would snack on these items from the tins throughout the day, not too much, not too little and always something healthy, high in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids for growing bodies and brains.
So don’t give up the good food fight, with the right winning combinations you’ll be on your way to creating and raising healthy eaters for a lifetime! Good luck and hope to see you soon.
To learn more on how you can raise healthier eaters please see our programs and services at www.PetitsChefsAcademy.com or call us at Tel: 289-553-4445 or email us at Info@PetitsChefsAcademy.com
Fuelling Children’s Minds and Bodies with the Right Winning Combination through the LOVE of REAL FOOD!