We all know, as parents, the importance of encouraging our children to make healthy food choices. While it’s easy to say, it’s sometimes not so easy to do!

Our busy lifestyles can often be hard on our families’ health. This is why it’s so important to stop, prepare ahead, and make a conscious decision to follow a healthy lifestyle for your child. Eating and drinking the right things is one of the most important elements of following a healthy overall lifestyle. By taking a few steps, you can help ensure your children are getting the proper nutrition in their meals all while enjoying what’s placed in front of them.

Take a trip to the market

One of the best ways to really get a feel for what your child enjoys is to bring them on a trip to a local produce market. Produce markets provide healthier options than the long aisles at your nearest grocery store, which unfortunately allow your child to choose from many unhealthy options. Yes, it may be like finding a needle in a haystack, but you always run the chance that your child finds what he or she likes – and you don’t. Moreover, a trip to the market allows you to interact with your child and maybe see why and for what reasons they do not like certain foods.

Prepare a meal together

Often, the reason why children can be picky or hesitant to eat a meal is largely that they do not like specific added ingredients. Take a step back and really see what your child likes and dislikes. You might be pleasantly surprised to find out they are really not as picky as you may have thought. Giving your children the ability to choose from healthy options can make things so much easier – not only for yourself but for the child as well. Most often, your child will open up to foods they like if they know they have been given the option of eating them. Your specific food preferences are not always the same as your child’s.

Make it fun!

Let your child be a child again. As parents, we tend to enjoy having nice, evenly portioned, presentable meals. However, what may look appetizing to you doesn’t necessarily appear similarly to a child. To remedy the situation, add a little fun to your child’s plate. Strategically lay out the meal so they can look forward to eating it. Maybe create a fun character out of food items, or allow your child to eat off a plate featuring their favourite television show or action figure with a colourful spoon and fork. Presentation is key for a child, so why not go a step further if it means they can also enjoy a healthy meal?

Get accustomed to what is and isn’t a healthy choice

A child at a young age will follow their parents’ lead with little knowledge about what really constitutes the healthiest choice in a given situation. If you have made a habit of preparing family meals consisting of unhealthy items – and/or eating them in front of your children – it becomes difficult for a child to actually enjoy a truly healthy meal. Forcing your child to eat healthily while you opt for an unhealthy choice is a poor way to teach your child about nutrition. We should all set a better example as parents when it comes to dinnertime, but many of us are often unaware of what are and aren’t healthy choices. Take the time to research what you are putting in both your and your child’s bodies. What may be labelled as or seem to be a great option might actually be a harmful choice.

Yes, it may be a tall task as a parent to help guide your child’s diet in a healthier direction. That said, if you take the few extra steps mentioned to ensure your child is getting a proper nutritional intake, it can make breakfast, lunch, and dinner a walk in the park in the long term. It takes time to adjust, but it really is worth it to remember to make mealtime fun, enjoyable, nutritious, and just as tasty for your little one.