Healthy eating is a crucial factor in ensuring overall health and well-being, and it is even more critical in young children. Instilling healthy eating habits can be a challenging process, but these habits are vital for physical growth, cognitive development, and emotional health. At Little Zak’s Academy, we encourage healthy eating habits and good food behaviours to mirror what your children are learning at home. For each meal of the day, we provide nutritious and delicious meals for your children and even allow them to be hands-on in the kitchen. Here are our best tips to help nurture healthy eating habits in your children.
An essential aspect of promoting healthy eating habits is meal planning. Parents and carers can start by designing balanced meals that include a variety of food groups. Balancing out all the necessary nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals is key to ensuring children receive all the things necessary for childhood nutrition. One of the reasons children can become fussy eaters is because they want to feel in control. Providing them with a selection of healthy meal options and letting them choose can help them feel more in control and less likely to resist new foods.
Another highly effective way of encouraging healthy eating habits in children is through providing nutritious snacks. Young children often crave quick and tasty snacks, and parents and carers can use this to their advantage. Rather than offering high-fat and sugary snacks that won’t keep them full, opt for healthy alternatives that will satisfy their cravings. Sliced whole fruits, yoghurt, vegetable sticks with hummus, and even cheese slices are excellent options. At Little Zak’s, all snacks offered during tea times are nutritious, with many served alongside a fresh fruit and vegetable platter to keep your little ones full and happy in a healthy way.
Creating a positive eating environment is paramount for nurturing healthy eating habits in children. All mealtimes should be stress-free, pleasant, and shared with family and friends whenever possible. Choosing meaningful conversations during mealtimes will have a more positive outcome than watching TV or using other screens during this time. Moving pictures can distract children from eating, while conversations and family time can help them develop a positive relationship with food. At Little Zak’s, we follow the same routine for mealtimes every day to help your children feel safe and know what to expect. The children are able to eat and talk among their peers, which creates a cherished ritual for them. We encourage parents and carers to replicate this environment at home, making mealtime a positive and exciting part of the day.
One fantastic way to encourage healthy eating habits in children is to involve them in the cooking process. There are numerous benefits of cooking with your children. Children love to be hands-on and assisting with meal prep and cooking can become an exciting and new adventure for them. Not only does cooking with your little ones provide quality family time, but it also gives you a space to educate your children about the ingredients, their benefits, and the importance of food preparation. We offer Little Zak’s Kitchen at our centres, promoting the concept of fun and education through cooking sessions. Children are able to chop, mix, and create their dishes under supervision, fostering a sense of accomplishment and curiosity about food. At home, even simple activities like stirring a sauce or even setting the table can help create positive relationships with cooking and food.
Most parents and carers, at one time or another, are challenged by dealing with picky eaters. It is crucial for caregivers to approach this issue with patience and understanding. Instead of forcing children to eat foods they dislike, try to introduce them to new flavours gradually. Be persistent and gentle, offering the same food multiple times in different ways to introduce familiarity and teach about how food changes flavour depending on how it’s cooked. During our Little Zak’s Kitchen classes, we experiment with various ingredients, textures, and presentation styles, allowing children to become more open to trying new foods. Parents can apply this strategy at home by incorporating food they know their children enjoy into new recipes or disguising less favoured ingredients creatively.
Promoting healthy eating habits in young children is a responsibility shared by parents, carers, and childcare centres alike. Nutritious snacks, meal planning, involving children in cooking, tackling picky eating habits, and creating a positive eating environment are the building blocks for success in implementing these healthy habits. At Little Zak’s Academy, we are dedicated to helping foster and nurture healthy eating habits for children. Between our healthy daily meals and our Little Zak’s Kitchen program, we aim to turn mealtime into an exciting experience of exploration and learning. By working together with parents and carers, we can ensure that our children grow up with the knowledge and desire to make healthy food choices for a lifetime of well-being.
Find out more about Little Zak’s Academy to learn about our other extracurricular activities on offer, as well as more information about Little Zak’s Kitchen! We also share monthly recipes from our Little Zak’s Cookbook on our Instagram and Facebook, letting you cook along at home. Share your cooking experiences with us at #LittleZaksKitchenAdventures.