09 October 2005

Feeding Kids

Feeding kids is a battle most parents know about. How do you get them to eat good healthy food?

The important thing is not to stress when they don’t want to eat. Small children, in particular, follow their instincts when it comes to eating. Sometimes they need a lot; sometimes they just don’t need much. Trying to bribe them with things that aren’t a normal part of their diet, in the long run, will do more harm than good.

Food can soon become a source of power for the young child, a way of getting what they want, a way of manipulating you. Never use food as a bribe.

When offering different foods to a child, just so they will eat something, the idea of not listening to your bodies needs is introduced. We are on our way to developing fussy eaters. A vicious cycle has begun.

I have heard of many different eating patterns of children, and it is obvious where these eating patterns have begun. One family, the children wouldn’t eat vegetables unless they were smothered in honey. You must ask “Where did they get the idea of putting honey on their vegetables in the first place?” Other kids won’t eat anything but junk food; they have to have their daily supply of chips and/or lollies.

Getting your children to eat a good healthy diet very much depends on you. They will learn from you and eat what you eat. The best way to ensure that they are not filling up on unhealthy food is simply, not to have it in the house. If you like to have a little treat, make it that. Have one “treat" once a week. Make it special, not an everyday occurrence.

Kids, who don’t have a regular diet of sweet things, really don’t develop a sweet tooth. This I have also seen many times. We never had sweet biscuits in the house when our kids were young. Now at19 and 17, they just don’t eat sweet biscuits, well except for a very occasional chocolate biscuit. They used to feel insulted as small children when they went out and all that was offered to the children was cordial and biscuits. I couldn’t count the number of times they came to me when we were out and said “Mum, but there’s nothing to eat”

I know kids who don’t like chocolate, as it has never been a part of their diet, or won’t drink frizzy drinks, as they just haven’t had them offered to them at home.

It is important thing to give your child choices, but you can decide what those choices are. Offer them good wholesome food. Have lots of fresh fruit available. Dried fruits are also very popular with kids. Vegetable sticks are great, give them something to dip them in, like peanut butter and it makes them more interesting. Freshly popped popcorn is always fun and popular. There are many snacks available that are healthy and tasty that your kids will enjoy.

Take time to enjoy your eating time with your family. Teach your children the pleasures of good food and the fun you can share together in preparation for a meal. Make it an experience.