Making healthy food fun for kids

When it comes to eating vegetables, are your children bored or on board?

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One of the most common challenges families face is trying to get their kids to enjoy healthy food.

We all know the importance of those early childhood years when it comes to forming healthy habits that allow our kids to grow to their full potential. Recent studies have even revealed the surprising links between the foods we eat and our mental health, which start from a young age.

But it isn’t always easy to get kids on board. We can all relate to the struggle of vegetables being pushed to the edge of the dinner plate and uneaten apples and bananas buried in school backpacks!

In fact, the recent “Nutrition Across The Life Stages” study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that 99 per cent of kids aged 2–18 years do not eat the recommended daily serve of vegetables.

Meanwhile, today’s parents list “eating more vegetables” as the healthy behaviour they would most like to see their children adopt (52 per cent), as well as eating more fruit (43 per cent) and reducing the amount of sugar in their diet (36 per cent), according to a recent YouGovGalaxy study.

It’s important to get your kids excited by nutritious foods so they can develop healthy habits from a young age. A great place to start is to simply make meal preparation fun for kids.

Researchers from the University of Notre Dame found that kids who are involved in food preparation are more likely to eat home-made meals and make wiser food choices.

Transform helping out in the kitchen from a “chore” into a “masterclass” by tapping into your inner master chef. Walk them through how you’re preparing the meal step-by-step, while supervising them to help with age-appropriate tasks like rinsing, peeling and mashing vegetables.

Why not try some of our other ideas to make healthy eating fun?

View the full Little People Big Lives Report from Sanitarium and the University of Notre Dame at sanitarium.com.au/biglives.

Tips to make healthy eating fun

Create games around food. Involving the kids in shopping and choosing menus gives them important life skills. Dreading a supermarket visit? Make it fun with a game of grocery bingo. Let your kids pick the items—the first to four in a row wins.

Back to veg. Kids love getting in touch with nature, so learning how foods grow is a fun way to pique their interest. Visit a local nursery or farm, or take it a step further and plant your own veggie patch.

Create a swap swatch. Have a handy swatch of healthy foods that you can “swap” when you’re looking for a snack—think soft drink for water or milk, or a bag of chips for nuts. The kids can help make a board with drawings of healthy foods.