Making Food Fun and Healthy

As parents, this is something we all want to do at times. Today’s contributing article is by a member of our community, Dr Jivraj, who is a local GP, working and living in Kensington, trainee at Imperial College, and specialises in Women’s Health Training and has a particular interest in Paediatrics.  She has a 2 year old daughter who loves playing doctors!  She shares with us advice on how to have a positive and healthy relationship with food.

One of the elements of my job as a GP is to facilitate a healthy and positive relationship with food for my patients, and discuss where lifestyle choices could be improved. 

In principal I love the idea of not having any guilt strings being pulled at my heart, as I glance at the pastries counter while waiting in line to purchase a boring Super Green salad!  I even agree that it’s refreshing to have an annual cheat day, where all thoughts of long-term consequences are collectively thrown out of the window. There are some that say, giving in to temptation once in a while makes us follow that diet slightly better in the long run.

Everyone should enjoy a guilt-free occasion when people could let loose and eat those foods that give them pleasure. The problem with this concept is that children may not understand that this is just a one- day deal, and that having ice cream for each meal, just because you demand it, may not be allowed for the rest of the year.  So, how can we make food a fun experience for our children and positively enhance their relationship with food?

Here are my top 5 favourite tips to make eating together fun

  1. Start the day with a nutritious breakfast.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for children, and it can be up to 12 hours since their last meal. They need the fuel to help them start their day, and it will be easier to maintain energy levels if they have had a filling healthy breakfast. Look for whole grain cereals and breads with at least 4 grams of fibre in them.

2. Maintain energy levels with healthy snacks.

Snacks are an important part of your child’s diet and their overall growth. Look for snacks like fruit pots, peanut butter, dried fruits or vegetable batons. Thinking of snacks as ‘mini meals’ helps me to plan these out better the day before.

4. Let the children help prepare at least one meal a week.

Easier said than done! With such limited time, planning meals for the family can be seen as a chore, so perhaps build one day regularly in to the week where the children know they are responsible for what they will eat. Research shows that children who are involved in planning, shopping and preparing for a meal, are more likely to eat the food that they make.

5. Eat together as a family as often as is possible.

Set a regular time for family meal times, and try to keep distractions, like the TV to a minimum. Encourage the children to talk about their day and make it a happy and fun time. These are the memories that children often remember the longest about their childhood!

Source: Pinterest

6. Make food fun! Be creative with fruit and vegetables.

The more creative and fun the food is, the more appealing it is to children, and therefore they are much more likely to eat it. Smiley face sweet potato slices or vegetables arranged as hair on a plate, or try using a cookie cutter to make peanut buttered toast in to hearts.

Jamie Oliver’s #AdEnough campaign is focused on moderating adverts for food and drink that are unhealthy high in sugar, fat or salt.  We want to help children make the right dietary choices and consequently have a healthier future.

So, what are you waiting for? Let loose and get the kids to help make dinner, call over those friends who you’ve been meaning to invite and celebrate a great healthy meal, together. 

Feature image credit: Daisies & Pie