Research commissioned by growingupmilkinfo.com found that toddlers in the UK were more likely to refuse food than their European counterparts.
Most young children go through periods of faddy eating, when they refuse to eat certain foods, and this is normal behaviour. However there are strategies parents can take to help overcome fussy eating, and one is to get children helping with cooking and shopping. This creates a great opportunity to talk about ingredients, look at recipes together and even involve them in deciding what to cook on which night.
Children love to get involved with cooking. Encourage younger children by giving them a simple task such as stirring something in a bowl, older children will enjoy following recipe instructions, which are simple to understand.
Too many children are growing up without acquiring much cooking knowledge which leads to a future of unhealthy eating habits. Having an understanding of what ingredients work well together to create tasty meals is a valuable skill. Eating around a table with family or with a single parent is vitally important for children’s development of manners, the art of conversation, sharing and taking turns, and to develop a healthy relationship with food. According to researchers at the University of Illinois, the more time spent at the dinner table for a family meal, the less likely children are to become overweight plus there is evidence to show they do better emotionally and academically. This may seem like the ideal world and it isn’t always possible to organise our lives in this way due to ever longer working hours but we should at least try to make it a priority.
Ways to encourage good eating habits in children
- Educate your children on the importance of a healthy diet. Children are often very receptive to this kind of information.
- Involve your children in the planning of meals and shopping for food.
- Cook with your children or create meals they can make themselves. They are much more likely to eat it.
- Make food interesting to eat.
- Have dinner together at the table and make meal times a positive experience.
- Do not allow your children to eat on their laps or in front of the television or computer.
- Keep introducing new foods.
- Regularly re-introduce foods that your child has not liked in the past.
- Be a good role model to your children.
- Do not offer junk foods and sweets as treats and do not have them in the cupboard.
- Have healthy snacks available.
- Do not punish your child if they do not eat. Praise them when they eat well or try something new.
- Do not force feed your child.
- Avoid fast food restaurants.