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4 Ways to Help Your Child Embrace Better Nutrition
One of the most common questions I am asked by parents is “How do I help my child eat better?” Their question is usually followed by the sharing of a litany of fears that they hold for their child’s wellbeing. My heart goes out to these parents. Most of you know that I only came to understand the importance of nutrition when my eldest became so sick; otherwise I know I would have been in the same boat. Below are the top 4 ways to help your child embrace better nutrition.
Proper nutrition affects the way we feel, the way we look, how we do at school and at work, our energy levels, our moods and whether we age gracefully or not.
1. Be a shining example
The number one way is for you, the parent, to be your child’s shining example. If the whole family is eating healthily, chances of your children eating healthily significantly increase. Even if you were to start making healthier choices now, the whole idea is far better accepted when no one family member is singled out.
2. Look at existing symptoms and conditions
The next best way is to look at your child’s symptoms or conditions and to understand that better nutrition can help every symptom or condition. Whether your child has coordination challenges, sore joints, troubles focusing, acne, constipation, or asthma, to name a few, they can turn things around for themselves by improving their nutrition. My book outlines which foods contribute to various symptoms and conditions. If your child is bothered enough about their particular health challenge and it is explained to them that a certain food or food group is contributing to their challenge, they will likely try a new way of doing things.
3. Involve children in meal planning/preparation
Another way is to involve your child in the meal planning or preparation process. If you take your child to a healthy cooking class and they prepare and taste the food there, they would likely learn that healthy food can be delicious, contrary to what many believe. If your child helps you grocery shop or picks vegetables from your garden and then helps prepare the food using a juicer, blender or stove, they are far more likely to take an interest in the whole process.
4. Present food creatively
Lastly, the way the healthy food is displayed is key to determining a child’s interest in those foods. I use brightly coloured and uniquely shaped dishes, tablecloths and napkins, as well as candles on the table to increase interest. When my girls were younger, we had picnics around our home, finding that the new setting always served to whet my girls’ appetites. Cutting the vegetables and fruit into different shapes also makes a difference. Oh and feeding them to a child, prior to mealtime, when they are really hungry is such a great way to fill them with vitamins and minerals.
The bottom line is that these days, we have to earn our health. There are too many unhealthy choices out there for health to be a given. No one has ever said that it is not worth our while to eat healthier.
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