Getting kids to eat healthy has been a problem parents have faced for centuries.
After all, kids will be kids.
Personally, as a child, I hated the thought of eating spinach and broccoli – despite what Popeye told me. Dang, I just gave away my age.
However, there is hope when it comes to getting your eating healthy foods. After centuries of fighting kids to eat healthy, parents of the world have learned a few tricks that I am happy to share with you.
If you are struggling with getting your kids to eat healthy, take a look at these time-tested proven ways to help get your kids eating the healthy foods their bodies and brains need to promote their overall health and well-being.
- Offer Choices
Offering choices at the table won’t make your children feel that you are forcing them to eat something.
Even though the choice between a peanut butter sandwich and apple slices might not seem like much, it provides your kids with the autonomy they want while keeping you in complete control of their nutrition.
Your kids might feel more excited to try a healthy dish or new food if they think that it was their idea.
- Set an Example
It might seem that your children often do the opposite of your advice but your actions and opinion have a major impact on how your kids view nutrition.
Preschoolers love copying what their parents or caretakers do and are very likely to mimic their meal preferences. You can take advantage of their behavior by eating healthy foods and snacks in front of them.
- Introduce Gateway Foods
Children are suspicious of new things and this also includes healthy foods, so how do you get them to try new healthier foods?
One way is to combine them with the foods that your children already like.
During the first five years, children are learning what to eat based on their parents and cultural practices.
While they are forming their preferred habits and tastes, introduce them to different varieties of food like whole grains, proteins, fruits, and veggies.
This might prevent them from turning into picky eaters in later stages of life.
If they are reluctant to try a healthy food item or don’t like its taste initially, pair it with something they like. For example, if your kid doesn’t like carrots, try pairing them with a sauce they like.
- Let Them Help Prepare and Serve Meals
Asking your kids to help with meal decisions and allowing them to serve themselves shows you trust them to eat sensibly and healthily.
Once they’ve your trust you will be amazed to see them rising to the challenge. They will be more willing to eat everything on the plate when you allow them to serve.
- Don’t Buy Unhealthy Foods in Bulk
If you are buying a treat, buy the smallest package available instead of the bulk-sizes packages. For example, it is better to buy several single-serving, small bags of cheesy popcorn instead of a large bulk-size pack of the popcorn.
Moreover, store these treats out of sight and reach of your kids so that they’ll be less tempted to graze on it.
- Don’t Force The Issue
Providing a choice is an important element in promoting a healthy diet.
Though exposing kids to new foods can promote healthy eating habits, it is unlikely that they’ll like every food. It is, therefore, not a good idea to force your kids to eat something they don’t like.
Always offer food in different forms and with a variety of seasonings. Avoid pushing your kids to eat what they clearly dislike while everything you can to encourage them to eat healthy.
- Show Them Where Healthy Food Comes From
Children are more likely to try healthy food if they are already exposed to it.
They are naturally curious which is why if you allow them to visit a farm, it will raise their interest in healthy foods like dairy products, fruit, and vegetables.
Allow them to explore and find different fruits and vegetables growing at a farm and let them pick the ones that like the most.
- Turn to Technology
The best way to inform your kids about healthy foods is via an electronic device. Whether it is a smartphone, a computer or a tablet, if it is digital then it will be of interest.
Encourage your kids to play games revolving around healthy foods. There are also healthy eating apps designed to educate and stimulate children to practicing healthy eating habits.
- Give Appealing Names to Food
Give healthy herbs, spices and foods appealing names just to make them sound more fun and then let your kids shake them into their food.
For example, you can call oats ‘sprinkles’ and sprinkle it over breakfast cereals of your kids as a treat.
You can do the same with other foods like nuts on desserts and seeds on salads. This is a great way to introduce healthy foods and snacks to your kids.
- Use a Stick
Children love food when it is presented to them on a stick.
Tomato and cucumber may not appeal on their own but your kids will likely like them when you put them on a cocktail stick. So if you want your kids to eat healthy foods, try giving it to them on a stick.
While there are many ways to help get your kids eating healthy, these are our favorites.
Perhaps the biggest take-away’s should be these: Monkey see monkey do, and practice makes perfect.
And remember, there are plenty of healthy foods available to us so don’t be afraid to venture away from the norm – you just might be surprised what your child ends-up enjoying.
If you have a method you have used to get your kids eating healthy, please share it with us by leaving a comment below and if you have any questions you can contact us here.