Strategies To Encourage Your Children To Eat Well

Strategies To Encourage Your Children To Eat Well

Nurturing Healthy Eaters - By Lucy Couser

Reading time: 3 minutes

We all want our children to be confident eaters, both to ensure they’re eating a balanced and healthy diet and to have a healthy relationship with food. If your children don’t show much interest in food, don’t like to try different foods, or aren’t eating as much as they should, we’re here to help with some strategies to encourage your children to eat well.

Be Role Models 

The first thing you should do to encourage your children to eat well is to be role models for them. Your children naturally follow your behaviours and pick up on things you might never think of. So, you need to be a positive role model, including when it comes to food. Things like eating a variety of foods, enjoying a treat when you want to, eating at the table with everyone and generally showing a positive attitude towards eating can really help. 

Have Themed Nights

To make mealtimes more exciting for your children, you could have a themed food night once a week. Plan a day when you know everyone will be home, then start thinking of different themes, running through your food and then also some fun activities for the family afterwards. 

For example, if your kids love dinosaurs, you could have a dinosaur-themed evening, perhaps a chicken pie with dinosaur-shaped pastry, turkey dinosaurs with a mound of mash and broccoli trees, a dino dip with crushed avocado and Doritos placed in the back, then maybe a dino fruit platter for dessert.

You could do around-the-world nights, trying different cuisines each week and playing fun music to match, such as Italian one week, Chinese the next, and so on. There are so many options here, but it’s just about making this a fun occasion and something different for your family to enjoy together. 

Get Them Involved In Food Planning and Preparation

Something else you can do to help encourage your children to be good eaters is to get them involved in food planning and preparation. Sit down with your children and ask them if there’s anything they want to eat that week, or come up with a few different ideas and give them some options.

Then, when you’re cooking, get them involved wherever you can and make it fun! This can help encourage them to get involved and enjoy the process of cooking and eating. 

Never Use Food As A Reward Or Punishment 

If you start to use food as a reward or a punishment, it can undermine the healthy eating habits that you’re trying to teach your children. Whether it’s offering treats as a reward or a lack of dessert as a punishment, this can set up emotional ties to particular foods, which can start to trigger issues with food and eating.

It can cause an anxious attachment in terms of either undereating or overeating, which can both lead to problems as they move into their teenage years and adulthood. So, food should be seen as a necessity and not linked to their behaviour in any way, to help them establish a healthy self worth. Providing a balanced diet as a consistent part of their routine is what they need to build a healthy relationship with food. 

Focus On A Balanced Diet, Not Good Or Bad Foods

It’s also important that you focus on giving your children a balanced diet, rather than focusing on “good” or “bad” foods. This can result in negative and positive associations with food that could make them feel like they’re either a good or bad person, depending on what they’re eating. Labelling certain foods as junk can also cause feelings of guilt, whereas in reality, eating everything in moderation is what you need to be healthy. 

Instead, you should focus on positively highlighting foods that are "nutritious,"  “full of nutrients,” or “good for your body and teeth,"  while reminding them that every type of food should have a place in their diet. You can explain to them that we can enjoy all kinds of different foods, but we want to be eating more of some kinds than others as it helps to give our bodies everything they need. 

Seek Medical Help

If you’re really struggling with your children’s eating, then we’d recommend you seek medical help to ensure they’re eating what their bodies need. Speak to your doctor, and they will be able to help you come up with solutions to help, potentially, when you’re visiting your dentist in Solihull, Swansea or Southampton, ask them to talk about the different foods that are great for their teeth. Sometimes hearing things from a medical professional can help shift the mindset of your child, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.


Lucy Couser

I have a degree in creative writing from Manchester, and when I'm not reading romance novels, I go camping, hot yoga or shopping for second-hand fashion.