Sweet treats, a trip to the chippy, ice cream but only if you've been good... anyone else's little one all about the sugar and less thrilled about the veggies? Guilty! Actually when we asked on Instagram 70% of you said your Mini was a fussy eater, and since we know hunting down healthy recipes that Mini will actually eat can sometimes be a bit of a challenge (did someone say beige, beige, beige..?) we asked content creator and recipe developer Preena (from @myhungrylittlehelpers) for her top healthy eating tips for parents...
'Firstly it’s important to say that all children are different and therefore eat different amounts, in different ways and have likes and dislikes. The main piece of advice is to do what works best for you and your family and try to not to compare what your child eats/does to others, I know this can be very hard! The main thing we want to achieve is that all children grow up having a healthy and safe relationship with food.
1) Eating together is always helpful. This is you modelling eating good food and healthy eating habits to them. Children are learning everyday with what they see and hear around them so as they grow and learn, seeing the behaviour we would like from them in ourselves is key. This is in all areas of development and eating habits are no exception here.
2) Make food fun by presenting it in fun and interesting ways. For example use cookie cutters to cut out fruits and vegetables. Present food in fun ways, such as curry coming out of a volcano of rice. Food art is always popular with children, so make shapes, images, pictures or characters out of food when serving it. Use fun plates and cutlery to present food in, for example you can serve food in silicon cupcake cases and then on a plate, or in a muffin tin, filling each section with different foods. You can lay all the foods out on a chopping board/big serving plate and they can choose what they want.
3) Get them helping in the kitchen in different ways. You can get them to help put food shopping away, set the table for meal times or chop fruit and vegetables. Cookie cutters are great for children to use to cut fruit and vegetables. Cooking and baking together is a great way to make them feel more in control of what they are eating because they have helped make it so feel proud and they have also seen what goes into the meal so giving them independence over this. It is a great family bonding time and such a fun activity to do together. Don’t get me wrong it can be messy and stressful for the grown ups but if you can get over this it can be great fun for everyone!
4) Offering food on picky platters in the middle of the table work really well. This is a platter which is loaded up with lots of different foods that everyone just picks bits from to eat and enjoy. My children love it when we serve food this way and it can take the stress out of formal meal sitting.
5) Exposure to foods is really key with children, even if they don’t like them it is still important to do. So continue to occasionally offer foods they don’t like because one day they might surprise you and eat it! This works well when you offer foods they don’t like or new foods with foods they do like and that are familiar to them so they have options on what they eat.
If you are offering food they don’t often enjoy, offer a side bowl so they have a place to put unwanted food that they have tried and still didn’t want to eat. This also helps with the throwing of foods that toddlers often do. This way they have tried the foods but are still unsure and won’t feel forced.
Giving children the independence to understand and know their ow eating habits and hunger/full feelings is really important and leads to healthy relationship with foods.'