For many parents meal time, in particular dinner-time, can be a struggle with end of the day fatigue and picky behaviours making for a trying time.

Image: Decor8

Image: Decor8

With a bit of encouragement kids can learn healthy habits that can make meal times enjoyable. A diet rich in wholefoods and fresh fruit and vegetables benefits your child in so many ways; sustained energy to play, good sleep and an inquisitive mind for learning.

Here are our top tips to encourage healthy eating:

1 // BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL. Kids love to copy their parents. If they see you eating and enjoying healthy foods then they are more likely to try and enjoy eating these foods themselves.

2 // EAT MINDFULLY AND USE POSITIVE LANGUAGE. If you enjoy a healthy diet full of wholefoods tell your children! Comment on how good foods make you feel. Be present at mealtimes and eat mindfully. Share your enjoyment and delight at that crunchy and fresh celery, share a laugh at the juicy pear that has dribbled down your arm. Make good food fun.

3 // LET KIDS CHOOSE FOOD AT THE GROCER. Involve your kids in your weekly shop at the grocer. Kids love responsibility and if they have played a role in choosing the weekly fruit and vegetables they will more likely to want to enjoy their haul at mealtime.

4 // INVOLVE KIDS IN FOOD PREPARATION. Instead of getting frustrated at your kids playing cars under your feet whilst you prepare dinner, get them involved and use the moment to teach them about the healthy foods they are about to enjoy for dinner. With supervision and encouragement, kids from the age of two can help with dinner preparation. Jobs such as removing the stalks from cherry tomatoes and topping and tailing beans are a good start. Bonus points if they have a nibble during prep time!

5 // OFFER VARIETY. Fresh wholesome foods are so versatile. Offering your kids healthy foods in different ways is a great way to encourage them to eat a healthy diet. Bananas and mango freeze really well to make delicious smoothies. Carrots are equally delicious eaten peeled and raw as they are steamed. Diced beef and colourful vegetables make great skewers on the BBQ.

6 // THINK AHEAD. Snack time can be a trap for unhealthy and quick options. With a little bit of forethought and preparation, healthy snacks can be on hand when needed. Think cut carrots stored in water in the fridge, celery sticks with peanut butter (my favourite!) and fresh fruit straight from the fruit bowl is always a winner.

7 // GROW YOUR OWN FOOD. Growing food, be it a little urban herb garden or full scale veggie patch is a great way to educate kids on the benefits of a healthy diet, instil responsibility and can really inspire a love of cultivating and eating fresh produce.

8 // GIVE GOURMET JUNIORS A TRY! Our friends at Gourmet Juniors create delicious meals that are not only healthy and convenient but they are also interested to inspire a love to good eating. They ensure their veggies are kept chunky so they are visible enough to spark a conversation. Their healthy chicken nuggets come with a beautiful colouring in image of their wholesome ingredients. We think they are wonderful and hope you will too!

Article written by guest blogger and founder of Gourmet Juniors, Alecia Whitelaw.