There are loads of benefits of healthy eating in early childhood. It gives children the nutrition they need for strength and development and helps guide them to a healthy lifestyle well into adulthood.
Nutritious eating habits, daily movement and key nutrients are fundamental elements to creating a healthy foundation for wellness. Unfortunately, many kids are consuming unhealthy diets and are becoming less active. In fact, research has found that despite programs geared to improving children’s eating, Australian children are not eating according to the Australian Dietary Guidelines.1 How can families support the health and wellbeing of their children with nutrition? And create a healthy lifestyle for kids? Discover our top five healthy eating tips below:
1. Healthy eating begins at home
It’s no secret that family members influence eating choices and patterns for young children. Parents create early experiences with food and eating, and their own eating behaviours and food choices can influence those of their children.3 As role models, it’s important to set the tone and advocate for nutrition plans with high nutritional quality. This means limiting consumption of unhealthy fats, excess salt, sugar and sports drinks and focusing on different nutritious foods such as 4:
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans.
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables of different types and colours.
- Healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado oil.
- Whole grains such as couscous, oats, quinoa, and barley.
- Organic milk and/or milk alternatives.
- Plenty of water.
2. Develop a plan
It’s easy to fall into unhealthy eating habits when you don’t plan your meals. Our tip? Work as a family to identify which foods you should reduce and which ones you should increase. Once you’ve done that, you can get creative when trying to add new foods to keep things interesting (and keep everyone in the family happy!). Try including chia seeds in homemade muffins, adding apple sauce to meatballs or using puréed pumpkin in homemade waffles.
3. Go grocery shopping with a plan
You will be on your way to raising healthier kids by making healthy choices at the grocery store. Before shopping, create a list of items to help you stay on track. If time permits, shop a few times per week, buying only what you need to maximise the nutrient value in your fresh produce. It’s important to eat a variety of nutritious foods, so focus on buying your favourite fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins, and then pop into the aisles to stock your pantry with staples such as whole grain cereals and pasta, nuts and seeds, dried herbs and healthy oils. Finally, avoid making unhealthy food purchases – remember, “out of sight, out of mind”!
4. Don't give up
Picky eating is common among some children and can lead to family stress and parental frustration.5 There are many reasons why a child may be a fussy eater, such as age, personality or media and peer influence.5 As a parent, it’s important to stay calm and not give up. Continue to introduce new foods and give children the opportunity to try them. If they are not ready don’t force them, but also don’t give up – find another time to try again.
It’s important to be aware that fussy eaters have lower intakes of important nutrients such as vitamin E, vitamin C, folate and fibre.5 You can help fill nutritional gaps by using a multivitamin for kids. These supplements provide a broad spectrum of nutrients needed for healthy growth and development and immune support.
5. Be healthy together
Promote healthy eating in your kids by providing them with nutritious food options, being a role model for healthy eating and being patient as they navigate through their food likes and dislikes. Eating together as a family, keeping consistent meal and snack times, and getting your children involved in meal preparation are other ways to support healthy nutrition.
Support your child’s nutrition with our multivitamin for kids at Whole Earth & Sea®.