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Helping your children eat well

By Cherice Bronte-Tinkew, RD

A tantrum in the snack lane of the grocery store.

A meltdown in the car as you drive pass the ice cream parlour.

These can be scenarios happening with many children and their parents around the country and it is always the question, ‘How do I get my child to eat healthy?’

Firstly, understand a child is like a sponge and they will absorb anything around them. A parent or guardian must create the environment they want their children to learn from. Teaching can be simple, but it takes time.

If there is a new food to try, everyone should try it. Fruits and vegetables may be the most difficult of the Caribbean Food Groups to introduce to children. My key advice is to start early and lead by example in the household. Parents, siblings, or other relatives can influence the children to try new foods if they enjoy it with the children.

Another way is to get the children to help in the kitchen when they are old enough. It’s a teachable moment and they can understand what it takes to prepare a meal. Preparing a meal is a life lesson we all should learn.

Set a schedule for mealtimes. This can be overlooked especially in a busy household but to get a short period of time throughout the day where everyone comes together is time worth it.

Children will have a better appreciation for food when there is a scheduled time. It gives the meal importance and allows the children to focus on what they are eating. Sometimes, distractions like a television, tablet or phone with a cartoon or movie on can take the attention away from the meal.

Snacks are not for anytime. Just like recess in school, there should be a time for snacks. In many households there may be the snack drawer, cupboard or bag. This should not be open and available at any time of the day. Set a rule for the time snacks are served in the house.

Another rule should be fruits and vegetables must be served as snacks. Fruits and vegetables should be offered daily to children.

Be firm and don’t give too many options. This may take a lot of time to get right. They may put up a fight and fuss but remember you’re the parent/guardian. They may not be accustomed to the taste yet.

Sometimes, it takes a child 12 times before they like a food item. It’s important to remain calm and patient and don’t forget, to lead by example and enjoy the new food together.


Cherice Bronte-Tinkew has been a registered dietitian for over eight years. She is the Secretary of the Board of Nutritionists and Dietitians and a member of the Tobago Association of Nutritionists and Dietitians.

For more information:

Facebook and Instagram pages @JustCherNutrition.