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eaching children about food and health is
as fundamental as teaching them how to
read and write. As parents we are hugely
aware of the vital importance of feeding our
children nutritious healthy food but expecting
children to conform with this ideal is not always as
straightforward as one would hope. Understanding
the challenges and having a variety of different
strategies to draw on can be invaluable for all
parents to support child engagement, interest and
to also develop their growing awareness of the link
between food, nutrition and health.
Parents can face many challenges when promoting
healthy eating with their children including
children's drive for sweet foods and reluctance to try
new and particularly `healthy' foods. Babies show a
strong preference for sweet tastes, which is satisfied
by breast milk. When babies are weaned at around
6 months vegetables are introduced and a natural
developmental response is to reject these new
bitter tastes. This stage of food rejection, which can
develop into a greater fear of new foods, is in fact
an evolutionary response that serves to protect us
from eating toxic or poisonous foods as we become
increasingly independent. Working through this
stage, whether it is with a 10 month old or 2 year
old is important to ensure the foundations are laid
for a varied and healthy diet. As they get older and
develop greater independence we can start to focus
on ways to interest them about eating healthy.
As parents we often think of inventive ways to
engage our children and many of these can be
utilised regarding food and health. Some top tips
How to teach children to eat
by Katharine Tate
Image: f