How to get children to eat healthy food

We all set out to give our children the best start in life and, at safefood, we often get asked about how parents can get their children to eat healthier food. Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan offers some advice.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree ... If you set a good example in what you eat yourself, chances are your children will do the same."

1. Don't force it

young girl eating an apple in an orchard

Don't make a big deal of any lifestyle changes you are introducing - just introduce new foods without special comment, and show how much you enjoy eating them (it goes without saying that if you detest Brussels sprouts, leave them off the menu for now).

2. Make sure the right food is available

Fill the fruit bowl, empty the treats cupboard and check out our video on cupboard essentials.

3. Snacks don't have to be unhealthy

If you always have a biscuit with your cup of tea, think about alternatives like a wholemeal scone or crackers and cheese.

4. Stay positive and persist

Focus on enjoying healthier options, and don't remonstrate too much about any unhealthier choices. The key thing to remember with any changes is to try and persist with them – it can take up to 10 times before you succeed. The more frequently children can try healthier foods, the more likely they will eat them but negotiate and compromise a bit, because this is also part of role modelling a healthy approach.

5. Appreciate every little step

Introducing any changes to the family's diet can often bring up some issues but try them one little step at a time. For example, swap battered fish for a fillet of fish, served with beans and chips. Better still swap the chips for some homemade potato wedges. Every healthy choice is a step in the right direction.

sad looking boy eating vegetablesFact:
In recent safefood research, 7 out of 10 parents said they know their own eating habits have a huge influence on their children’s likes and dislikes. Yet in the same research only 1 in 10 of us parents suggested changing our own eating habits to help our children.
Get your kids on the right road, one step at a time, with or