1. Enjoy a variety of foods. Serve up a healthy variety of foods each day. These include fruit and vegetables, legumes (such as dried peas, beans and lentils), wholegrain cereals, low-fat dairy, lean meat, fish and skinless chicken. Reduced fat milks are not suitable for young children under 2 years.
2. Shop healthy. If you haven’t got a healthy variety in your kitchen pantry or cupboard, you can’t put it on the table.
3. Go for quality, not quantity. Children’s serves may be small. It all depends on their age and appetite. Variety is the important ingredient.
4. Stick to three meals and two snacks every day. Growing children need to be fed regularly and often.
5. Begin their day with a healthy breakfast. It improves concentration and builds stamina.
6. Give your children choices. Offer kids a few healthy choices. For instance, ask if they would like an apricot or a plum, beans or broccoli, an egg or a tuna sandwich.
7. Lead by example. If the kids see you eating well and enjoying a wide variety of healthy foods they are likely to join in too.
8. Freeze in summer. Frozen fruits make great summer snacks. Try frozen grapes, bananas and mango wedges.
9. Keep warm in winter. Corn on the cob, baked potatoes, hot homemade popcorn, baked beans and stewed fruits can really hit the spot on cold
10. Go for a dip. Set up a colourful vegie platter with a variety of dips or salsa.
11. Give your children water instead of juices, cordials and fizzy drinks. These drinks are full of energy and can often take away their appetite for other foods.
12. Set a sweet limit. Children don’t need sweet drinks but if you do include sweet drinks in your child’s diet, set a limit. That could be one small glass of fruit or vegetable juice, around 125ml, 1-2 times a week.
13. Make family meal times part of your routine. Whenever possible, sit and eat together as a family and have the TV turned off.
14. Lunchboxes that go crunch. Skip the chips. Fruit and vegetables in season make a great snack or lunchbox addition. Try corn on the cob, carrot and cucumber sticks, green beans, cherry tomatoes, celery, stone fruit, grapes or berries.
15. Family food – include everyone. Encourage children to enjoy the family foods and meals from an early age (about 12 months). Children will learn to eat what the family eats if they are given the same food and encouraged to try it.
16. Be persistent – you can’t afford to give up. It’s common for all kids to love a certain food one day and hate it the next. Just keep offering them healthy choices and they’ll soon be eating a wider variety.
17. If at first you don’t succeed then try, try again. Kids can be stubborn. But be patient. You may need to offer a new food 10 times or more before your child will accept it.
18. Get the kids in the kitchen. Encourage kitchen skills by having children make a sandwich or salad. Let them wash fruit and vegetables and make a simple green salad, tabouli or a fruit salad. Being involved will increase a child’s willingness to try new foods.
19. Be consistent. If your child isn’t hungry for healthy food, refrain from offering unhealthy substitutes. This will only encourage eating for reasons other than hunger.
20. Give them an encouraging word. Try not to force your child to eat. A much better technique is to praise them when they make a healthy food choice.
21. Try not to use food to punish or reward a child. A hug or a book is a much better alternative to food.
22. Hungry or not? Children sometimes eat when they’re bored, sad or lonely. Help your child to understand when they are eating for reasons other than hunger.
23. Let them make their own decisions. At the end of the day, it’s up to your child to decide whether or not to eat and how much. Your job is to offer healthy foods at regular intervals.
24. Call in an expert. If needed, get professional help to solve problems or keep the family motivated. Simply talk with your doctor, health practitioner or dietitian.
If you'd like more information, tips or advice call the 'Go for your life' Infoline on 1300 739 899.
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