10 Tips To Set Up Toddlers For Good Eating
Due to our fast-paced lifestyles and the convenience of fast and processed foods, setting up our toddlers for good eating habits is becoming increasingly difficult. In order provide our toddlers with all of the nutrients they need for development and set them up for a healthy life, we need to really think about our strategy and approach.
Here are our 10 favorite tips!
1. Be A Great Role Model
Eat good, healthy food which you enjoy – and make it known! If you have a couple of not so great habits that you are still working on (or not!), try to refrain from indulging in them until you have put your toddler to bed.
2. Feed Your Toddler Only When They Are Hungry
Nobody likes to eat when they are not hungry, that goes for infants, toddlers, teenagers and adults. In this culture where we generally over eat, don’t worry if your child doesn’t want a meal straight away – sooner or later they will. Don’t make eating or finishing a whole plate of food a demand (or one with negative/ positive consequences!) as this can result in disordered eating later on in life.
3. Go At Your Toddlers Pace
Don’t expect your toddler to be ready for wholefoods 100% of the time if they have previously been eating crackers, chocolates, cakes, biscuits or other empty calorie foods. Small steps result in big changes so take on this new lifestyle change slowly and as positively as possible! A great tip is to slowly decrease the amount of processed foods in the house so they’re out of sight and out of mind!
4. For Those Toddlers Who Like Grazing…
Some kids like grazing, so set up platter food such as chopped up veg, nuts, dips, sauerkraut, olives (take out the pips if they are too young), fruit, patties, steamed veg etc. Allow them to come and go from this food at their leisure.
5. Reconsider Fruit Juice
Avoid starting your infant/toddler on fruit juices. Fruit juice is a high quantity of fruit (and sugar!) which has had it’s healthy fiber removed – increasing our blood sugar response. Keep drinks to water, milk of choice, green smoothies (leafy greens, water, ice, 1 piece of fruit with the fiber).
6. Avoid The Fruit Trap!
When your infant starts on solids, don’t fall into the trap of adding fruit to every meal. Fruit is a healthy addition to your toddlers diet but allow them to learn how to enjoy vegetables just as they are – not everything has to be sweet!
7. Keep Your Own Likes And Dislikes At Bay
As your child starts to learn new flavors and tastes be mindful of adding your own food bias’s. Let your toddler develop their own likes and dislikes through getting them to try a range of different foods.
8. Avoid The White Refined Stuff
Avoid starting baby’s and toddlers on white refined stuff such as white pasta, white bread, pastries, cakes, biscuits, additives, sugary foods etc. These are low in nutrients and contain very little fiber. Consider making your favorite foods our of wholefood sources, such as: wholegrain pasta, pulse pasta, sprouted wholegrain breads, buckwheat breads, quinoa crackers etc. There are so many great alternatives out there!
9. Be Prepared
If you leave your kids with others and you don’t like the food they have on offer, be prepared to make their food in advance. Although this can be important in some situations (toddlers with allergies or intolerance’s) the love and care given to your child by loving grandparents sometimes does over ride the not-so-fantastic food!
10. Teach The Important Life Lessons
Finally, we live in a culture that spends so much money on our kids in a way our ancestors could never have imagined – toys, electronics, clothes, shoes, setting up their rooms, education, succeeding etc. Although this is great, our investment in teaching our children how to live healthy is often lacking. Let’s teach our children the important life lessons only we, as parents, can! This includes: How to eat, what to eat, how to be active, how to be kind, how to share, how to love ourselves, how to be independent and how to be confident. This is and always will be the stuff that counts!