Also, I do my best to provide good food for my children, but they have access to so much junk food.
What can I do to make them make good food decisions of their own?
In this counseling answer:
•Make eating healthy foods fun. Be creative, especially with your 5-year-old. Organise a healthy lunch on her plate in a fun way.
•Buy seeds and let them grow their own fruit and vegetables. They will be more likely to be happy to eat something healthy that they have grown by themselves.
•Don’t keep junk food in the house, this way at least you can control what they eat.
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,
Yes, unfortunately, your concern about junk food is widespread, which makes the task of encouraging our children to eat healthily a difficult one. However, there are some steps we can take to try and make the task of drawing their attention away from less healthy food and develop a liking of more healthy food.
*Buy a cookbook (or look online) and let them pick what they are going to make, go shopping with them for the ingredients and let them help making it.
Giving them such responsibilities and letting them be a part of the process not only teaches them life skills, but it makes them more inclined to eat healthy food because they were the ones in control. They chose what they wanted to make, and they assisted in making and buying the recipe.
*Buy seeds and let them grow their own fruit and vegetables. They will be more likely to be happy to eat something healthy that they have had the responsibility of nurturing and growing themselves.
*Don’t keep junk food in the house, this way at least you can control what they eat in the house without coming across in a way that you are controlling what they eat.
*If they want to eat things that might be considered unhealthy, such as chips that are fried in oil, instead, try making them in a more healthy way by baking them and seasoning them in a way that makes them just as tasty (if not more) so they will be more inclined to eat the healthier version.
Likewise, making lollypops out of fresh fruit is a healthy alternative for a sweet treat compared to the sugar laden lollypops that you see in the store, and in fact they even taste better!
*Make eating healthy foods fun. Be creative, especially with your 5-year-old. Organise a healthy lunch on her plate in a fun way. Shape it like a flower, or something that you know she likes. You could buy a selection of different fruits in different shapes colors and make a fun picture with them. Having fun with healthy food will help to develop a positive relationship with good food.
*Make smoothies. 5 portions of fruit and vegetables can easily be consumed in liquid form. Let the experiment with different combinations of fruit (and or vegetables). You can also add in additional healthy elements to smoothies as well, such as almonds or dates.
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*Being too firm with them or strict about what they can and can’t eat may encourage them to go and secretly eat unhealthy foods it in the future or develop unhealthy associations with food that could lead to eating disorders.
*Praise them when you see them make a healthy food choice; when they snack on an apple instead of a packet of crisps.
*Still make choice available to them so they have some control over their eating, but let the choice between 2 healthy alternatives such as different types of fruit. This way they are still given the option of choice, and they have control over their decisions. This will make them feel empowered, but in relation to making a positive choice which encourage them to continue to make positive choice by themselves in the future.
*Eat together. As their role model, let your children see you making healthy choices and eat together. This will encourage them to make healthy choices too.
*Do also remind them as well, that eating healthy is important for taking care of our bodies, much the same as exercise and Allah wants us to take care of our bodies. He also tell us in the Qur’an do eat of the good things that He has provided for us.
May Allah reward you for looking out for your children and doing your best for them. May He guide you all aright to make decisions that will be most pleasing to Him.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.