How can I get my child to eat healthy foods? The burning question is often asked by moms around the globe. Including myself. There are days when our children will happily oblige by taking one bite of broccoli, or any other vegetable or fruit for that matter. Then there are days when trying to get them to eat any meal placed in front of them is like trying to climb Kilimanjaro blindfolded.

It can be exhausting, frustrating, and downright painful!

This is a paid partnership with Nestle – Nestlé for Healthier Kids

Nestlé for Healthier Kids (N4HK) is Nestle’s flagship programme to help caregivers make healthier nutritional choices for their children. Childhood obesity is becoming a global health concern, even in South Africa, it is escalating, with around 13% of children under 9 being overweight or obese and more than 50% of adults overweight or obese in South Africa. This programme is to help caregivers make healthier food choices for their children.

Nutrition Week in South Africa runs from the 9th – 15th of October. And it offers an opportunity for us to create awareness around the fact that there are too many children who do not make healthy food choices. Either because they simply don’t have the resources, or because they are not encouraged and empowered by their parents to do so. N4HK’s global ambition is to reach 50 million children by 2030 and help them live healthier lives.

How can we as parents and caregivers encourage our children to make healthier food choices?

1. Cook healthy food with our children

By involving our children in the cooking process, we are encouraging conversation around nutrition and healthy food choices. Here they will be able to experience new flavours, textures, sights and smells, and become more confident in their ability to choose and prepare healthy meals.

2. Use the right food language

As parents and caregivers, it is vital that we encourage our children to have a healthy and positive relationship with food. Instead of using terms such as good food choices or bad food choices, we need to articulate more clearly that all food has a place. That it’s OK to have a sweet treat or a fast-food burger every now and then, but that we need to balance out our meals by choosing foods that are better for us and that have a higher nutritional value. (Healthy Food Choices)

3. Letting them participate from start to finish

Some children automatically think that healthier food tastes bad. By experimenting with new recipes and encouraging them to be part of the shopping process we are inadvertently training the brain to seek out foods that are rich in protein, omega 3’s, vitamins and the like. This process becomes an automatic routine. One that will (hopefully) become a habit.

4. Explaining what healthy foods are

Good food for a good mood. My one son is super hyperactive, and it’s been a long journey to teach him what foods are good for him and what foods spike his anxiety and mood. We use clear language and examples when encouraging him to eat the right foods. He’s aware now that a little sugar is OK, but if he has a little too much, he will begin to feel frustrated and his mood will escalate in a direction that will only leave him feeling spent. He’s at the point now, where he is able to say no thank you to extra treats.

5. Be the example

The sad reality is that children who grow up in homes where healthy food choices are not made, spiral into the same pattern. Let’s be real, it isn’t always easy to put that soda down and pour a glass of water instead; or to leave that extra piece of pizza in the box and pick up fruit instead. But, if we want our children to have a positive relationship with food we need to lead by example. Healthy living has become a family affair, and together we can raise children who will feel confident in who they are and the choices they make.

This Nutrition Week, I aim to be more mindful in educating my children about healthy food choices and empowering them, even more, to make these choices for themselves.

For more information on Nestlé for Healthier Kids –  Nurturing together, add a little more goodness campaign, please visit their website.

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