Lots of parents feel guilty when their kids ask them for chocolates and sweets. Part of the guilt stems from them asking for unhealthy treats. The rest of it comes from having to say no for the sake of their health. Many of us also give in to these requests. After all, one or two treats a day is OK, right? But wouldn’t it be nice if we had plenty of alternatives to offer them instead? Of course, convincing your kids that the healthy alternatives are a better option could be a challenge!
When kids are small, they have usually had very little experience of chocolate or sweets. After all, they can pose a choking hazard for toddlers. And kids that age rarely ask for things like that. We cut up fruits and mash up vegetables. They have bright colours and sweet flavours from all the natural things we give them at that age. So what goes wrong?
Unfortunately, we can’t stop our kids from finding the delights of confectionary. And we can’t stop their tastes evolving away from all those healthy vegetables. But we can keep offering them, and we should. You can enhance the flavours of some of the foods you offer with natural sweeteners. Fruits are very sweet, and you can use things like miracle berry tablets to bring sweetness to sour tasting vegetables or other dishes.
How you prepare or cook the foods could make a big difference to their appeal. Remember how we used to mush up veg into purees? These purees can still be used to create sauces and soups for the kids. It’s a great way to hide vegetables that are less pleasing to the eye. You can even stuff it in pasta or pitta pockets to make for an interesting and healthy meal.
Fruit kebabs or even veggie faces on the plate can make a meal appear more appetising. Making a homemade pizza can help young children feel more excited about the vegetable toppings you choose. Joining in with the cooking also helps kids feel more comfortable around foods they normally shy away from. When you’re baking cakes, try to use recipes that use naturally sweet ingredients. Things like honey and dried fruits, instead of adding extra refined sugar are best.
Sugar is something you want to avoid giving your kids. It rots the delicate baby teeth, and can cause problems with emerging adult teeth too. But chemical sweeteners are not recommended for children. Instead, try a splash of fruit juice in water for a sweet drink. The fruit acid can also harm enamel, but small quantities for flavour are healthier than three or four spoonfuls of sugar in a carton drink. Getting used to water again can take time, but it will be worth it in the end. Carbonated drinks are the worst for teeth because of the bubbles.
We all love sweet things. Kids especially love flavours that are sweet. This doesn’t mean it has to be high in sugar, though. See what sweet things you can find in your healthy recipes.