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From picky eaters to food explorers: 4 tips to encourage kids to eat healthy

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How to get kids to eat healthy - Great Eastern Life Malaysia

Encouraging healthy eating habits in children can be a challenge, especially when faced with picky eaters. As parents, you might have encountered parenting forums or community groups with parents saying “My 7 year old won’t eat, what do I do?” or even “How can I get my kids to eat healthier?”. However, with the right strategies, patience, and a bit of creativity, you can transform your child's approach to food from fearful to curious instead! If you’re still wondering how to get your kids to eat healthy or considering what you can do to teach them about healthy eating, read on to discover four effective tips that will help kids become little food explorers!

1. Make healthy foods fun and appealing

Transforming healthy foods into a playful adventure can spark your child's interest and make nutritious choices more enticing. Consider crafting colourful fruit skewers, cutting veggies into imaginative shapes, or orchestrating a whimsical arrangement of foods with a spectrum of vibrant hues to show your child that healthy meals can be exciting. By infusing a dash of creativity and playfulness into mealtimes, you'll captivate your child's curiosity and weave healthy eating into a delightful experience.

2. Involve kids in meal planning and preparation

If you catch yourself saying “Help, my 7 year old won’t eat!” then perhaps it’s time to take a different approach to mealtimes. Children are naturally curious and yearn to get a taste of independence even from an early age.  By nurturing their involvement in the cooking process, you ignite a sense of ownership that ignites their curiosity for diverse flavours. This will boost their confidence and self-esteem when they see their efforts turn into something delicious — and hopefully spur on their enthusiasm for healthy eating in the process. Encourage them to partake in meal planning and grocery shopping, allowing their preferences to guide selections. Prompt them to opt for a new vegetable or fruit each week and include them in simple kitchen tasks, such as mixing ingredients or crafting a vibrant salad.

3. Create a positive eating environment

Mealtimes are a time for nurturing a positive relationship with food. Keep it relaxed and pleasant, steering clear of pressure to avoid creating negative associations with food. Offer a variety of healthy choices and let your child decide how much they want to eat. Remember, the goal is to create a comfortable space for exploration, so it’s advisable to always use positive reinforcement such as praise and small treats or rewards when they make the effort to try new foods. This will teach them that healthy eating is nothing to be feared of and help them associate it with family fun and delicious new flavours.

4. Lead by example

Children often imitate their parents’ behaviour, so it's important to be a role model for healthy eating habits. Set the stage for teaching your kids about healthy eating habits by incorporating a wide range of nutritious foods into your own diet and openly express your enjoyment of them. Gather for meals as a family whenever possible and weave in discussions about balanced eating when appropriate so that your kids will see it less as nagging and more of a simple family discussion. Remember, your child is likely to follow your example.

Encouraging healthy eating habits in children is a journey that requires patience and persistence. It may be challenging at first, especially if your kids are approaching the age where they’re starting to become more opinionated about their diets, it’s nonetheless still possible. Simply start by making healthy foods fun, involving kids in meal planning and preparation, creating a positive eating environment, and leading by example, and you will eventually transform your picky eaters into curious little food explorers. By embracing small steps and utilising positive reinforcement, you are sowing the seeds for cultivating healthy habits that will accompany your children throughout their lives.

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Great Eastern Holdings Ltd | The Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Limited | Great Eastern General Insurance Ltd
Great Eastern Holdings Ltd | The Great Eastern Life Assurance Company Limited | Great Eastern General Insurance Ltd