by Zita Ronald BSc RD, BA Psych
No matter what age, parents often find meal-time a daily struggle, so here are some helpful hints to make meal-times fun whilst still offering nutritious meals.
What are the benefits of offering our family healthier meals, you ask?
- Increased energy
- Optimal growth (both body and brain) and health
- Improved mood and behaviour
So here are some helpful hints to improve your child’s meals.
Listen to your child’s eating preferences: where your child enjoys eating scrambled eggs use this to your advantage, by making a variety of meals using eggs. So begin by adding this to the scrambled eggs, try boiled, fried, omelettes and quiche to name a few. This will increase the chance that meals will be eaten, as well as increasing variety, this process is called food chaining.
Involve them: if your child is included in the meal planning, shopping and preparation, they will be more inclined to eat the food provided. Allowing each family member to choose the meal they like creates a buy-in and gives them a feeling of independence. Make children aware that each person has chosen a meal and they are expected to eat other family members’ choices.
Increase nutrient density of meals: basically this means adding the highest amount of nutrients to each meal. Take a meal that your child has asked for and find ways to increase the nutrient’s. For instance, making your own fish cakes instead of buying premade using fresh fish. Instead of large potatoes, use sweet or baby potatoes, add some grated baby marrow and carrots for some vegetables. The objective being that your child will enjoy the meal because it’s what they want to eat but you have made it in a way that provides the highest nutrient content.
Eating is a part of our daily existence, our body’s uses it to grow and function, so it makes sense to make this process as enjoyable as we can.