National Child’s Day
Sunday 12th May is National Children’s Day. Yes, it appears that there’s a national day for everything these days! Although this one is one that we at The Yoghurt & Juice Network are particularly passionate about. National Children’s day is all about placing emphasis on a healthy childhood, freedom in childhood and teaching children to become happy and healthy adults. If you’re new to The Yoghurt & Juice Network you may not know that we focus on providing nutrition education in schools, colleges and universities to empower and inspire children to make healthier lifestyle choices. Nutrition plays a key role in childhood health and to celebrate National Children’s Day we wanted to share some top tips of how you can encourage your children or children in your life to make healthier choices.
Food should be all about fun, enjoyment, freedom and nourishment. We do not agree with making children feel guilty around food. So, we’ve shared below our top tips for how to encompass these factors when it comes to children and food.
- Get the children involved. Whether you’re making breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner there should always be a place for the children in the kitchen. If the children are too young or less interested in joining in the meal preparations simply start by talking them through what you’re doing to prepare the meal. Ask for their input. What vegetables do they like? Which flavours would they prefer? Do they prefer meals which are in individual components or one key component? E.g. do they prefer fish with sweet potato mash and roasted parsnips or do they prefer fish pie? Which colours do they like? What plate do they want to eat from? All of these factors can start to encourage the children to get involved with making their own dietary choices.
- Get creative! Show children that ice-cream can be made at home from frozen bananas and peanut butter. Allow them to make their own fruit kebabs or fruit faces. Make ice lollies out of fresh orange juice. Mix up the fillings for their sandwiches using a range of vegetables. Dip bananas in melted chocolate and turn them into cartoons, make stick men out of crudités… the list is endless!
- Encourage variety. If a child doesn’t like a vegetable try cooking it a different way. Vegetables can be so versatile that they may like them in some styles and not others.
- Don’t use food as a reward. Using food as a reward starts to provide an association between good behaviour and food (usually highly palatable, high sugar, high fat foods). This can increase the likelihood that the child will grow up rewarding themselves with food. Try using stickers, treats or trips to the park as a reward instead.
- Get active! Children learn from the adults around them. If children grow up active they are much more likely to stay active as adults as opposed to if they’re encouraged to sit in their room playing video games. Exercise can also be a great tool for supporting mental health too. Make exercise fun rather than a chore. E.g. play games, go on treasure hunts and create a community rather than sending them on a run or to weekly afterschool exercise programmes.
There you have our top 5 tips of how to encourage children to become healthier on National Children’s Day. Remember children have it tough these days and their environment can be a key player in encouraging unhealthy behaviours (e.g. video games, dangers of playing in the park alone, drive throughs, fast food and takeaways and the glamorisation of foods). In order to keep children engaged you must make it fun and enjoyable for them!