Food 'rules' for children that we need to break

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1. “Be a good boy/girl and finish everything on your plate.”

If children are hungry, they will eat. Often we forget how much they’ve eaten during the day and how little their tummies are. Many of us were forced to finish our plates as children, and experts now link that to over-eating in adulthood. This is one of those food rules for children that needs to be left in the 20th Century. Sometimes children simply aren’t hungry at the end of the day. An idea would be to give them veggies at lunch, or as snacks. Have a think about yourself; sometimes we are hungrier than others, or sometimes we are just not hungry.

2. “Don’t play with your food.”

By default, a lot of children love anything that seems to be ‘naughty’. It may be plating up their meals differently. Try using a spiralizer to make ‘noodles’ from vegetables. Let them eat with their hands or serve up a platter of finger food for dinner!

3. “Children eat first—we eat once they’re in bed.”

We are always told that kids learn so much from watching us, so eat your dinner with them! If they see you enjoying healthy food, they'll soon become interested enough to taste that spinach and avocado smoothie as well… and maybe even enjoy it too!

4. “We don’t snack between meals.”

How many of us do this? We are making dinner, there is a pile of chopped veggies ready to go and our children come up to grab some. We tell them, “no, that’s for dinner.”

But if they want to eat veggies right now, why not let them? Even if they fill up on veggies for dinner, nothing is wrong with that. Maybe even have another pile on the chopping board that is for them that they can grab.

5. “Go outside and play while mum cooks dinner.”

Something that is widely encouraged by experts now is to get your child/children to help you make dinner. It may take a lot longer and require more patience, but teaching them how to use the peeler, or cutting up food with them, gets them involved in the process. They feel proud that they helped make the food, which makes the eating part more enjoyable for them as well. It also teaches them about food, learning what different veggies are and discussing the ingredients as you go.

At the end of the day, you are the only one that knows what’s right for your child, so just go with it and ignore all the supposed ‘food rules for children’. You know you want to!


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