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What do parents and teachers have to say about healthy eating?

Parents and teachers discuss challenges facing children eating healthy foods.
Parents seem to make a lot of excuses about time. Oh I don’t have time to make that, or, I don’t have time to go to the shops and buy veggies or whatever, so they always opt for something that’s quick and easy and they can get it done quickly. I think the main thing is time. We’re time poor, with both parents working, we’re so busy, trying to just do day-to-day things, that we’re finding it hard to try and fit in, having to calculate, has my child had their two pieces of fruit today, and all that sort of thing. The child care center that I worked at, we were opposite a McDonald’s.
So when the parents picked the kids up, what were they going to have for dinner, they were going to have McDonald’s for dinner. Just because it’s convenient, they’re driving straight past it, and I saw that time and time again. There was a KFC just down the road as well, so, yeah, easily accessible. I think the days when you just expect kids to eat are gone. You have to actually make food attractive to them, and enticing to them. So, I think what you need to try and do, what I do myself, is to find time on the weekend where I plan the whole week’s menu.
So that way, every day, you know what’s happening, you know what’s going in a lunch box, you know what the kids are eating. Some ways I’ve come across that have helped me make healthy foods attractive to my kids were, to make little faces and things out of the food, to use different colors, on their plates, and in their foods. We made smoothies, so we’ve just made banana smoothies, we just put banana, honey, bit of milk. I get, that’s it? And just really educating them about the food, and saying well, this is a healthy option that you could have, instead of going to McDonald’s and having a thick shake or a milkshake.
So a strategy I’ve tried to get the kids to eat healthfully, is to have what my kids call, a party plate. So after Harry comes home from school, we’ll sit there and, we’ll chop up some pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, sometimes carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, and we put it together in a nice little assortment, and the kids sit there with me, and we enjoy having our family time eating this party plate. A variety, using a variety of foods, not the same thing, because they get bored eating the same thing all the time. And playing games, I think kids are more likely to do things when they’re having f fun.
The other thing, too, is to grow your own fruit and veg, so we’ve got a veggie patch, and the kids love going out there, picking peas, seeing the lettuce growing. If there’s carrots ready, pulling the carrots out, and seeing what funny shape they are, because mommy can’t grow them straight. All those sorts of experiences that the kids have, it’s teaching them, too, that they can eat healthfully, grow your own veg, it doesn’t cost a lot of money. In terms of trying to educate the children, I think it’s really important to involve them in making things. We love going and seeing what we can forage from our veggie patch.
For dinner, we’ll come out with some kohlrabi, and I might make little fritters or something for the kids, as their little party plate for the end of the day. But, it’s more that they are involved, and when they’re involved, they enjoy it.

We asked parents and teachers what they think about nutrition, its role in obesity prevention and strategies for encouraging healthy eating habits for young children.

In this video parents and teachers discuss many challenges facing children eating healthy foods.

Conversation starter

  • Can you relate to any of the issues raised?
  • Have you had similar experiences or tried similar strategies?
  • What strategies have you tried to get children to eat healthy foods?
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Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living

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