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What's for supper, ma?

As a mother, one of your first priorities is to ensure that your children eat healthily. You know all too well the importance of a balanced diet and understand that the eating habits your kids learn as children will be carried through into adulthood. You have read the magazine articles about the dangers of sugar, trans fats and tartrazine and listened patiently to what your paediatrician has to say about early childhood development and nutrition. But, at the same time, you and every other mom out there know how difficult it is to ensure that kids eat all the right foods. Because we understand the challenges you face we have pulled together this practical guide to helping you help your children win the food wars.

The battle of the broccoli: helping kids make the right choices!

Here are 10 things you can do to lay healthy eating foundations:

  • Keep them interested: serve a variety of different foods every day. Make sure the food looks as good as it tastes
  • Insist on regular mealtimes. Meals should be relaxed and enjoyable a time to bond, laugh and share. No eating in front of the TV!
  • If dinner is running late and they are starving, opt for some baby carrots or tomatoes as a filler instead of a bag of crisps or sugary biscuit
  • Encourage kids to help you prepare food. Children are more likely to eat what they have had a hand in making
  • Bring the kids along when you shop for food. Use the time to educate them about the food you are buying and why it is good for growing bodies
  • Insist on a healthy breakfast to re-fuel their bodies for the long day ahead. Breakfast should be quick and easy to prepare but no sugar-laden cereal!
  • Pack healthy snacks in their lunch boxes
  • Encourage your children to drink water when they are thirsty
  • Teach children to savour their food and eat slowly and chew properly
  • Do not ban unhealthy foods outright. Encourage a healthy relationship with food and allow them treats in moderation
  • Never use food as punishment or reward! By associating emotion with food you foster unhealthy eating habits
  • Walk the talk. Your kids will eat what you eat. Family meal time is a perfect opportunity to lead by example, so eat your veg!
  • Live healthily: it's about a lot more than just healthy eating. Exercise together and play together

What's for supper?
A lot has been written about healthy diets. As a parent it is up to you to educate yourself on what you should and shouldn't be feeding your family and how you can do it with limited time and budget. If we have one rule of thumb it is this: avoid processed foods and by doing so keep preservatives, flavourants, trans fats, sugar and all those other no-no ingredients off your menu. Try and feed your family foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Choose fresh instead of frozen veg or brown rice instead of white. Grill a piece of fish instead of buying fish fingers. And don't forget plenty of fruit and vegetables!

Final word
There is no quick fix when it comes to feeding children. It takes time, patience and effort. In our humble opinion, however, there is no greater way to love your children.

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