Practical ways to get your kids to eat healthy

By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach

Today I fear I may ruffle a few feathers because the subject is kid's eating, something I thought was quite topical given that children are heading back to school

Last weekend we hosted a picnic BBQ where a little 3 years old not only devoured my mini spinach pies but went in for second saying it was delicious.

Needless to say I was thrilled and totally taken aback since it's not the typical response of a child presented with my kind of food.

Let's pause on this one for a second while I share a story about my little dog Maisy who turned 10 on Friday.

To celebrate this special event she was served a special and outrageously expensive dinner. She devoured it and ever since has turned down her breakfast biscuits which up until now she's eaten with gusto every morning for the past 10 years.

Now Maisy is my baby and I can feel myself weakening. I adore her. I want her to be happy. She doesn't like her biscuits. Should I give her what she wants?

I mention this because I want you to know that I can empathise with parents whose children have developed a taste for the mass market highly sweetened/salted popular packaged foods out there.

However, and I feel the need to underline however, if you want your child to grow up with all the essential nutrients he or she needs for a healthy, strong body and mind you need to win the battle over what they do and do not eat.

Which is why I asked the mother of my new 3 year old spinach loving friend what she did to encourage her kids to eat well

Here's what she had to say Ö..

We are pretty strict about what we give our kids to eat but I am also very conscious about the risk of eating disorders later in life so I'm careful to talk about the benefits of eating healthy food rather mention food making them fat. Our kids have learnt that healthy food will help make them strong, happy, clever, active and so on.

We encourage them to try lots of different foods. If they don't like something on their plate, provided they have tried a few bites of it, they can put it to the side and eat everything else. I would never get up and make them something else.

Our kids eat what we eat. It's one of our pet hates to go to a party where the adults sit at one table and eat healthy whole food while the kids sit at another and eat manufactured chicken nuggets and chips. Their priorities are all wrong. To us it's critical that our kids grow up on a fresh wholesome diet that nourishes their body.

When we go to parties we don't stop our kids from eating cake and chocolate but we've taught them that although a little is OK, too much is not healthy. As a family, we'll share one piece of cake between the four of us and the kids will get a very small piece. Parties are hard though and you do have to field what they are eating.

Something that is very much working in our favour is the environmental messages the preschool pumps out. They promote Naked Lunches with no plastic packaging and my two have become mini environmentalists. The other day my daughter asked for one of those squidgy yoghurts that are full of sugar and I could easily talk her out of them due to the amount of plastic the yoghurt was packaged in. I explained she could have Greek yoghurt with a little honey in a ceramic bowl instead and she was quite happy.

Practical and sensible advice from busy professional woman with two young children under 5 years.

If you'd like to share what you did to encourage your kids to eat healthily log in and add your comments below this article.


Feb 1 2019 5:47PM
This comment came in from a friend via email

One little trick my mum did growing up was to pop a bowl of cut up raw veggies on the table while she was cooking dinner. Some cucumbers, carrots, baby tomatoes, capsicums and sometimes beans or peas. We were always starving around that time so we just gobbled them up! We weren't given heaps of sugary or salty afternoon tea so were hungry and grew to love our veggies snack just before dinner.

I started this with my own children and it has also given them a taste for all this fresh crunchy goodness.

Don't be afraid to get tough. I wish I had earlier. I found myself making a seperate dinner or salad for one of my children who was fussy and it was becoming more and more stressful. It's not like I was giving her a bowl of boiled veg, I was making really yummy dinners.
One day I'd had enough and I said to her, this is what is for dinner and if you don't eat it that's fine, you can go to bed. It's up to you. My husband and I stuck to it. Strictly. After a couple of stand offs and one early bed time, it was like a new child was sitting at the dinner table. Within a few months she was liking more and more foods, it was a joy to watch. And now she is one of the healthiest people I know who loves everything and has a fantastic pallet. She is in high school now and this morning I made her and her sister a salad full of all sorts of goodness. She rang me at lunch time just to say how good the salad was. I'm just about floating with happiness.
Comment by: Judy

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