Simple healthy meals for the entire family

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Simple healthy meals for the entire family

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I know that eating healthy can be a struggle for many of us as adults, but when you try and get kids to eat healthily, it can be even more of a challenge. I’ve become very interested in how to bring up kids with a healthy attitude to food, as I think it can have a huge impact on their relationship with food for the rest of their lives. I thought the ideas and approach in this article were excellent and very much good common sense!

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Simple and healthy meals for the entire family

We now live at a time when children are clamouring for ready meals and fast food, and where it is no longer ritual for a family to sit together at the dinner table to eat their evening meals. You may be trying your hardest to educate your kids in the importance of healthy eating – but if they have friends whose parents are more lax about their children’s eating habits, you may find it a bit of a struggle.

Often, parents will try to force their children to eat the healthy elements of a meal (“just one more mouthful then you can have dessert…”), but this can often have the opposite effect and make children believe that healthy equals bad. Many parents have found that it is easier to leave their children to make their own decisions about food – but a little bit of education along this journey can work wonders.

Involve your children in the weekly meal planning process at every stage from planning through to cooking. By getting them interested in food and its provenance, they are more likely to want to try new things and eat a wider range of foods.

Start by getting them involved in choosing healthy family meals for the week. You could even let them choose one evening meal themselves – but with the stipulation that it must contain certain healthy ingredients, turning it into a game.

When you have planned the week’s meals, try taking them to the supermarket, butcher, greengrocer or other food shops – talk to them about the ingredients you see and stimulate conversation. You could even give them part of the shopping list to find and choose on their own, to make them feel more involved and to familiarise them with what various raw ingredients look, feel and smell like.

If they are old enough, you should also encourage your kids to cook with you: it’s a great way to get them to learn about the importance of healthy food. Give them the sense of achievement of helping by letting them chop, peel or mix ingredients, using the time to talk to them about how ingredients work together and attempting to make them more enthusiastic about the finished product. You could even explain the importance of various elements of the meal: telling them, for example, where different vitamins and minerals are found in ingredients, and how they are important in keeping us healthy. If a child understands why it is so important to eat certain things, they may be more likely to do so.  There are plenty of recipe ideas online that you can search through with your children to get inspiration.

Many parents make the mistake of forcing their children to eat certain things with no explanation – which is a surefire way to get them to do the opposite. By giving them the understanding where our food comes from and what role it has to play in our health, you’ll have them eating out of your hands in no time.

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I love the idea of involving them in meal planning and food preparation. A few years ago I visited Denmark on a work trip and part of that included a visit to a nursery, I will always remember how happy the kids were to help prepare their own lunches and even grow their own food in the garden.

How do you approach the topic of healthy eating with children?

*post in partnership with Super Savvy Me

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10 Comments

  1. Georgina

    I remember baking with my mum as a kid, but actually can’t remember being involved with preparing meals. I bet that isn’t an unusual experience. The food they are involved with is often cake!
    My step-sisters have been involved with preparing the family meal for a while; starting with choosing ingredients, and now that they’re older, being in charge of the cooking themselves. It makes them more interested in what they eat, gives them life skills for when they need to cook for themselves as adults and they have an idea about healthy foods. The eldest often asks to help with dinner now, and scoffs that her dad won’t eat the pasta sauce rammed with veg that she makes.

    Reply
    • Laura

      I’m the same – I used to bake but not cook the everyday food! Brilliant that your step sisters are involved like that :-)

      Reply
  2. Lara

    I went through a stage recently where Mr Fussy (he’s 10years old) was eating very well, a balance of fruit & veg and meals I was cooking/preparing. As of this week this seems to have fallen apart and I’m not too sure why. Because he is 10 I do try and let him know the no, he’s not going to like ALL fruit and veg but that he must eat the ones he likes because he needs to feed his body good fuel to grow and be healthy. Its really a tough one because it can boil down to a battle of wills and let me tell you ….. kids can WEAR YOU DOWN ;-)

    Reply
    • Laura

      Haha I bet they can! Hope he comes back to his normal ways soon!

      Reply
  3. Hannah

    As a child I was always rewarded with sweets or chocolate and I think that had a massive impact on my relationship with food – I cannot eat sugar in moderation, it makes me go mental! When I have children I won’t place sugar on such a pedestal and will treat them with outings or activities. And teach them how to cook! 23 and still learning the basics… :)

    Reply
    • Laura

      I agree with that absolutely, I think that sweets and chocolate should be seen as neutral as possible – definitely treating them in other ways helps. Oh and with you on the cooking thing!

      Reply
  4. Anna @AnnaTheApple

    When I was young my mum really hated cooking so we had a lot of beans on toast and microwave meals. I never got excited about food. But when I was planning to go to university I realised I couldn’t cook and then really got into following recipes and cooking meals for my parents. I loved it. I think when I have children that I’ll get them involved in the cooking process and teach them about food that way.

    Reply
    • Laura

      I think cooking can be such a pleasurable experience it’s nice to involve kids in it, as you say they can learn about food that way too :-)

      Reply
  5. catherine

    Really interesting topic. In the nursery where I work the majority of the children are actually pretty good with the fruit and veg. The ones that have been in the nursery full time for a long time are the best, because they’re used to it. You can notice the ones who just don’t eat things like cucumber at home! We do often say ‘if you eat that you can have pudding’ though. I think a lot of it comes down to introducing an attractive, colourful variety of food and not stigmatsing it. When I was a kid I never ate veg, perhaps because we had a lot of bland boiled stuff which I hated.

    Reply
    • Laura

      It’s great that the kids at your nursery eat well, I agree that not stigmatising it and having it cooked well is key!

      Reply

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