How To Excite Kids To Eat Better

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How To Excite Kids To Eat Better

Healthy Eating for Kids

Children are hugely influenced by what goes on around them. So when healthy eating habits are encouraged from a young age, this usually sets them up for maintaining a healthy lifestyle into their adulthood.
Handy Tips for Your Little Ones
1. Add colour to the menu

Healthy eating for children isn’t impossible. Far from it! Children respond well to bright colourful food that’s easy to hold and eat. Their eyes will light up with a plateful of colourful veggies and a fruit platter of yellows, greens, blues and reds. Simply use a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, like blueberries, melon, carrots, red capsicum, snow peas and cucumber and they’ll be gobbling it all up in no time.
2. Kids’ nutrition for the playground

Once that bell rings for playtime there’s no stopping kids from making a beeline straight from the classroom, to the playground. But they need energy to help them run around with, so a quick and easy snack is the best way to go. Maybe place a piece of fresh fruit such as grapes, berries, an apple or a banana into their lunchbox. Other convenient sources of energy can come from cheese sticks, a mini muffin, a few wholegrain rice crackers, a small wholegrain muesli bar, or a small tub of yoghurt. The hard part won’t be getting them to eat their healthy snack, it’ll be getting them back inside the classroom!
3. Variety is the spice of life

Kids can be very picky about what they like and don’t like. Any mention of anything a bit different can have them running for the hills (or their bedroom). But it’s important that like us, children are exposed to a variety of food. And getting them to try something new doesn’t have to mean an uphill battle.

Here’s some suggestions that might help you out:

• Have them choose a new fruit or vegetable from the supermarket each week.
• Lead by example and choose healthy food for yourself.
• Get the kids involved in the kitchen – involve them in the cooking process as it’ll increase their likelihood of trying the meal they’ve helped prepare.
• Deep breaths – encourage them to take a bite of everything on the plate. The more often kids try, the more likely they’ll be willing to eat it. Stay calm, avoid getting into a battle and forcing them to eat as it only leads to more picky eating behaviour.
4. Water hydrator

As a child’s body is approximately 75% water, they need regular top ups to keep them hydrated. When they get thirsty, especially after exercising, make sure there’s water on hand. Add lemon, lime, mint or sliced oranges to a jug of water for that touch of natural sweetness. Also for a bit of a treat, try healthy fizzy drinks by mixing carbonated mineral water or soda water with natural fruit juice.

Bite your tongue. As hard as this may be, try not to comment on what or how much your kids are eating. Be as neutral as possible. Remember, you've done your job as a parent by serving balanced meals; your kids are responsible for eating them. If you play food enforcer -- saying things like "Eat your vegetables" -- your child will only resist.

Dip it. If your kids won't eat vegetables, experiment with dips. Kathleen tried her first vegetable when I served her a thinly cut carrot with some ranch salad dressing. My children also like hummus, salsa, and yogurt-based dressing.

Know the nutritional needs of children. Depending on their age, different children will need different amounts of food. The following rough guidelines are for young children age 9-13, provided by the Mayo Clinic. Girls are on the lower end while boys are generally on the higher end of the estimates: Calories: 1,400 - 2,600
Protein: 4-6 ounces
Fruits: 1.5 - 2 cups
Vegetables: 1.5 - 3.5 cups
Grains: 5-9 ounces
Dairy: 2.5 - 3 cups[2]
These are estimates meant to help you gauge relative amounts of food. While you don't have to measure out each ounce, you do want roughly 50% more grain than protein, for example.

Nourishing Party Nibbles 
Low fat vegetable sticks like crisp celery and carrot served with an avocado dip (simply blend mashed avocado with lime juice) or a ready- made reduced fat dip make the best nibbles instead of fat-loaded crisps and snack foods.

Team a nutritious butter bean dip with raw vegetables including button mushrooms and halved cherry tomatoes. 

Choc-dipped strawberries
Skewer large strawberries onto paddle-pop sticks and dip the tip into melted chocolate.  Alternatively, lightly drizzle strawberries with melted chocolate (a mixture of white and milk chocolate stripes looks fabulous). Chocolate melts are available in supermarkets and can be easily melted in the microwave ready for drizzling.

Fresh fruit kebabs drizzled with chocolate
Thread wedges of peeled and chopped kiwifruit, melon and pineapple onto paddle-pop sticks and lightly drizzle with melted chocolate.

Fresh fruit jellies
Add fresh fruits like seedless grapes to jellies. Include a marshmallow as an additional treat. Top with halved strawberry to serve.

Strawberry Smoothie Pops  
Terrific for a summer birthday party, the Strawberry smoothie pops can be made in advance using fresh hulled strawberries and yoghurt. Store them in the freezer until ready to serve.

Colourful fresh fruit platter
Kids prefer their fruit cut and ready eat. Arrange a colourful selection of fruit on a large platter for a kids’ party at any age. Add a Caramel dip for older children to dunk the fruit.

The following fruits are perfect for platters;

• Watermelon and rockmelon wedges
• Peeled pineapple wedges
• Whole hulled strawberries
• Small bunches of seedless grapes
• Cherries (for older children)
• Gold and yellow kiwifruit wedges
• Medjool dates (remove seeds for young children)

Berry yoghurt sundaes 
Make the delicious Berry yoghurt sundae treats with fresh berries and yoghurt in small plastic disposable cups – they’re particularly appealing to little princesses!
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