10 tips for turning kids into healthy eaters

Give your children a good start from the inside out with author Sue Palmer’s ideas for cutting out junk and raising nutrition levels.

Lifestyle Tips

1. Start as you mean to go on – for instance, from the beginning provide water or milk rather than sugary drinks. If you later include fruit juice, dilute it.

2. Keep an eye on your children’s behaviour in relation to food, and try cutting out any foodstuffs that seem to create a bad reaction – check the labels to work out what ingredient (especially additives) might be the cause.

3. Follow healthy eating guidelines, such as the Food Pyramid, but remember that low-fat products are inappropriate for young children.

4. Ensure children have both omega-3 (eg. oily fish, flaxseed oil/linseed oil) and omega-6 fatty acids (animal fats, nuts vegetable oils) – if necessary, look into fish oil supplements.

5. Avoid trans-fats (eg. hydrogenated vegetable oil).

6. Help children recognise the difference between your interest in their health and fitness and the marketeers’ interest in your money.

7. Don’t use food – especially unhealthy snack foods – as a reward or treat. Try to persuade grandparents and others to follow this rule too. 

8. Parental example is very important. If you have a sensible, balanced attitude to food and eating, your child will pick up on it – but if you gorge on unhealthy snacks, they’ll want to as well. Raising a healthy child is great motivation to sort out your own eating habits.

9. Don’t keep any junk food or unhealthy snacks in the house. Have a selection of healthy snacks available (but no snacking before meals).

10. Don’t ban junk food all together – allow occasional snacks, drinks and fast food (for instance, when away from home) – but don’t view them as ‘treats’.