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Share your tips for getting your children eating healthily with Little Yeos(349 Posts)
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Trying to get your children to eat healthily is a battle that many parents will inevitably face; from weaning onto solid foods, to dinner times through to pack lunches and beyond. There is a lot of information and recipes out there on what the best methods/techniques are to get your child to start eating healthily and how to incorporate nutritious food into their meals. With that being said Little Yeos would love to know any recommendations, recipes, techniques or experiences of getting your child to eat healthily.
Here’s what Little Yeos have to say: We’d love to hear your top tips for children’s healthy eating. Here are some examples to get you started:
What are your tips for weaning your child onto healthy food?
Do you find that your child prefers sweeter foods or more varied flavours?
Doing the weekly food shop:
Do you find it easy to find healthy snacks for your child?
Do you find nutrients labels on foods in supermarkets are clear?
Do you have any favourite healthy tips or recipes that work for your family?
What are your favourite healthy swaps?
Whatever your recommendations, thoughts or experiences when it comes to getting your child to eat healthily, share them on the thread below and you’ll be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £300 voucher of their choice (from a list).
Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!
Standard Insight T&Cs Apply
Don't offer crap food? My daughter is allowed a small pudding after her dinner but only if she's made a big enough effort for her proper meal. No effort no junk. Take it or leave it I don't give in.
The very best way to encourage healthy eating is to limit industrial food and be aware of tactics used by the industry, especially cracking, using concentrated fruit juice instead of sugar, but it is still sugar only with a healthy sound, and so on.
If your child get used to flavours that do not exist in nature or to food that only a highly engineered manufacturer can create, they will reject most vegetables and classic food such as the humble chicken breast unless modified to a fried form with crumbs, or covered in sauce.
Bottom line, avoid industrial food as much as you can, even "healthy" industrial food, such as rice cakes or even sorry sponsored OP, fromage frais with maize starch (cracking), milk protein and concentrate fruit juice (pure sugar) .
In nature what is fat is not sweet. So you have nuts, olives, avocado, ... on one side and sweet food such as fruit, honey, .... on the other. Combine the two, and you go crazy . We all love ice-cream, cakes, and so on. A fromage frais with fruits combines the same principle, a cheese (fat) with fruit (sugar).
Rediscover single ingredients meal and fresh produce, avoiding all packaged food. This will give you the best chances of your child eating healthy.
Vegetable led weaning and also not making a huge deal out of food. Let them learn how to eat intuitively and have a healthy happy relationship with food.
I tend to limit exposure to junk food at home and not use food as a reward. Teaching children about what makes them strong and healthy is really important and I think by understanding they learn to make better choices.
I remember mashing up all sorts of vegetables into mashed potatoes and making frozen smoothie lollies instead of buying ice cream.
We now make pizzas together where I buy a plain cheese and tomato base and he puts the topping on - he always chooses healthy options and enjoys making faces or pictures with pointed peppers, tomatoes etc.
Normalise all food so unhealthy foods been seen as something to really covert.
We talk a lot about the importance of eating a variety of foods, and that eating a 'rainbow' of food every day will help ensure variety.
It is all about balance. What is the point in putting a blanket ban on all food at home when it is readily available elsewhere I.e youth club, school, shops etc. My children don't have sugary snack in their pack ups but are allowed dessert. They eat lots of fruit but also go through phases of not eating much but the option is always there. One of the biggest changes we have introduced is swapping to natural yoghurt and fruit and making our own ice cream/lollies.
My toddler eats everything he's given at nursery but is a bit fussier at home. He would eat biscuits all day if he could. We make smoothie icepops which I give to him instead of treats. I'm not a fan of vegetables myself so I hide loads in spag bol, chilli con carne, cottage pie and soups. It seems to work for him too!
Shopping in Tesco is great because they have that "free fruit" thing, so the kids are eating healthily while you shop.
I like to only give healthy choices - "what shall we have with chicken this evening? Broccoli or green beans?" That way they feel like they have control over what they are eating.
For weaning, I try to start with veg only for the first week.
In general, try and limit junk in the house. My kids (all under 5) know they can have cakes/sweets etc at parties and grandparents house, but at home there isn't any there, so they eat well because they have no other options!
Lead weaning with veggies and avoid soft drinks/squash - offer water with food. I think weaning helps the whole family eat better as if you're all eating the same thing you won't add extra salt etc as it's not suitable for babies so the adults will eat better too.
Get them involved in the cooking - even just stirring something - so they have a stake in what they're eating. And eat with them whenever you possibly can.
Try not to make too big a deal out of food. Our toddler eats whatever we eat (for now, hoping she won't develop fussy habits as she gets old). I little bit of everything in moderation is the key in my opinion.
My baby just gets whatever we're eating, less salt/spice if necessary. There's no need for special baby food.
We offer vegetables first at meal time. So at the point where they are most hungry they get the veg then go onto the protein and carbs afterwards.
I weaned onto real foods with real flavours, but limited salt and sugar. My DC never had the opportunity to refuse plain yoghurt in favour of sweetened stuff, because they never had an opportunity to learn that the sweetened stuff existed.
At mealtimes I also ensured that the stuff I most wanted them to eat appeared first, when they were most hungry. In this way they learned not to fill up on bland carbs, and also learned that food tastes better when you’re hungry.
I found the book “First Bite” really excellent on this stuff.
It’s about balance and it’s about variety.
About a year ago I found my DD (6) had become very fussy and would exist on bread if you let her. So to tackle it we made a list of meals to try (15 or so) and then she got to pick her top 5 for regular rotation. We try to add some kind of vege to every meal and I find the steam bags a godsend.
We only drink water which goes a long way toward limiting sugar intake. We also don’t have biscuits or sweets in the house. We will bake sometimes and that’s a good way to learn about food as well as know what’s in it.
For snacks we have bread, I keep the fruit bowl full and we also have cheese and mini cheddars (which aren’t that healthy but you can’t win them all.)
Both of my kids love yoghurt and I always buy Greek and top it with honey. I make sure it has live cultures in it for their gut health.
Everything in moderation. They just get served up what we are having, but I never make them eat it all, they just have to try everything. We have regular treats but they tend to be home made stuff . I don't have biscuits or crisps in the house very often at all.
i really believe food should be a pleasure throughout life and that there should be no pressure on children to eat certain foods or specific amounts. The more attention given to the healthiness or otherwise of food and how much of each thing should be eaten, the more it can lead to small children using food as a way of exerting control, which is not ideal.
I have never called a food either good or bad, healthy or unhealthy but just offer simple, balanced and well cooked foods low in salt and sugar. Treats are fine I think as the more they are seen as very restricted, the more importance and desirability they can assume.
Helping to prepare food is a great way of getting children involved in meals but no amount of weighing, mixing and decorating will persuade a child to wolf something down if they’ve come up against a taste they just don’t like.
I do worry that the pleasure of sitting down and enjoying good food is sometimes taken away from young children by a big deal being made of what they need to eat, what they’re not eating enough of, what they can and can’t have etc. Mealtimes shouldn’t be lessons in nutrition just a nice part of the day.
If you eat a crap diet, so will your kids. Eat as a family as much as possible, and everyone eats a sensible balanced diet.
Pudding is fine, but for people who have eaten their dinner and are still hungry.
I think it's hard work getting the balance right but we are trying! We have lots of healthy snacks and aim for the 100 calorie snacks or less. We eat lots of fruit as a family and try and have a variety of meals which are balanced.
Having said all of that, my 2yo old would have 5 yoghurts a day if I let her!
Veg stick starter!
Some slices of red pepper, carrot and cucumber as a little starter before the main. Even if I'm serving fish fingers, chips and beans I'm happy that they've had something healthy to start.
Mine are both autistic along with all the food aversions that can involve. DS1 weaned onto lots of veg, which he enjoyed but now, as a teen he eats the same 2 or 3 meals (all sandwiches) each day plus apple juice, some pre-prepared fruit (he won't touch whole fruit, even when he chooses something like a melon, in the shop, he can't bring himself to eat it). He'd happily eat his weight in doughnuts, but i don't deliberately facilitate that!
DS2 was difficult to wean. He wouldn't touch anything until 8-9 months hated the taste and texture of many foods, right from the start. He wouldn't even touch food. I ended up putting a piece of biscuit on his tray and walking away, while he whined at me. I had to start pressing it into the palm of his hand to get him over that hump.
We push at the boundaries of his diet all the time and he pushes back, just like his brother.
So yeah, while only offering good food is sensible, there are kids for whom it's a lot more complicated than that.
We stick to healthier versions of staple foods: natural Greek yoghurt; heavily diluted fresh fruit juice if not water or milk; always wholemeal bread; pureed fresh fruit and veg rather than pre-prepared weaning pouches; home made yoghurt ice lollies etc.
The majority of what we eat is cooked from scratch and veg goes into everything.
We're huge fans of Jamie Oliver's 7 veg sauce recipe - makes a vat.
A favourite in our house is DH's egg fried rice - prawns, onion, sweet corn, sometimes pepper and egg with some sesame oil and soya sauce ... the 'rice'? Cauliflower. Our DD doesn't know. She thinks she dislikes veg... I know we need to get to the stage where she'll try more veg but she still gets plenty and eats a lot of fruit too.
Oh and treat-wise, Quorn nuggets are good too- way better than chicken ones!
Breakfasts: only on school holidays is DD allowed something like Cheerios or one of those mini box multi packs. At all other times (unless we're away on holiday in which case, anything's fair game) then it's pretty much porridge with fruit. Fortunately DD loves porridge.
Vegetable-led weaning, onĺy water or milk to drink (not squash etc.), plain yoghurt rather than processed fruit yogurts, and avoiding keeping snacky/junk food in the house.
I don't see the point in giving kids a sweet tooth too early- they don't miss what they haven't had!
Love the veg stick starter idea upthread - I'll be stealing that!