The tips below will help you make healthy choices for the kids – big and small
Stock the pantry and fridge with healthy foods only – Children have very little willpower and if biscuits and chips are in the cupboard, they will eat them even if they know they shouldn’t.
Replace sugary soft drinks and juices with water – Remember it’s not just fat, but sugar that can lead to weight gain. A two litre bottle of soft drink has 43 teaspoons of sugar, while one 375ml can has around nine teaspoons.
Avoid takeaway foods which are high in saturated fat – A meal from a well known hamburger joint can contain as much as 80g of fat. The key is everything in moderation. A takeaway is fine once a month, but it should not be a daily or weekly routine.
Don’t overfeed your kids – When serving up meals remember their stomach is much smaller than yours. You should be able to see the difference between your serve and theirs. Don’t ever force them to eat everything on their plate. Let them recognise the signs of feeling full.
Keep a plentiful supply of healthy snacks – Muesli bars should contain at least 3 grams of fibre per par. Always check labels as pre[ackaged food can be high in saturated fat, sugar or salt. Allocate a baking day once a month and make healthy my muffins, pikelets and low-fat corn chips. Fresh fruit, high-fibre cereal, yogurt and rice crackers are all good snack choices, while homemade mini pizzas or jaffles are great for hungry teens.
Pack them a healthy lunchbox each day – Choose multigrain or wholemeal bread for sandwiches as they are lower in GI and have more fibre. Healthy fillings include leftover lean meat, low-fat cheese, egg, tuna and salad. Avoid supermarket spreads as they will not keep children feeling full for very long and offer little nutritional value.
Get crafty with fussy eaters – If your child won’t eat vegetables, make recipes that hide them, such as my Macaroni Beef. The carrot and zucchini are grated and therefore well camouflaged. Some children are happy to eat raw vegetables instead of cooked ones, so encourage this.
Make sure they get a healthy start to the day – Eating a good breakfast kick starts your metabolism and boosts energy and concentration. High fibre cereals, eggs, cheese on toast, lean bacon and baked beans are all good choices. My favourite cereals are Weet-Bix, All Bran, Sultana Bran, Vita Brits and porridge because they are high in fibre, and low in sugar and salt.
Be the boss – Don’t let your child dictate what they want to eat. Given a choice, a child will probably pick a hamburger and fries for dinner as opposed to roast chicken and vegetables. Don’t have an open pantry policy – insist that children ask for food instead of helping themselves.
Never tell a child they are fat, even if in jest – Little comments like ‘don’t eat that’ or ‘you’ll get fat’ can lead a child into an eating disorder so please think before you speak. Unless your child is obese never put them on a diet, just give them healthy choices and as they grow they will balance out.