How to Encourage Healthy Eating in Kids

Are you one of those parents who are totally at a loss on how to make kids eat their fruits and vegetables? Whether you’re trying to convince a toddler to give broccoli a chance, or persuading your tween to give up sugar-loaded soda, don’t lose hope just yet. These healthy eating tips for kids just might work like a charm!

 

Start them young.

Teach healthy eating habits at a young age. With consistency and a positive attitude towards food, kids would eventually come to like healthy food without prodding.

It’s a proven fact that from infancy humans prefer salty, umami and sweet flavors. We are predisposed to dislike sour and bitter tastes. Our prehistoric ancestors have come to associate bitter and sour flavors as poisonous, and this is an instinct that has been passed on as our species evolved. Kids would naturally hanker for sweet, salty and savory tastes.

From 24-36 months, it is advisable to try not having separate meal preparations for children. This means you would have to change your diet, too, if your choices aren’t on the healthy side of things. It is advisable to offer 3-4 healthy choices during mealtimes, including food that your child likes.

 

Go on a family trip to a local farmer’s market, or a farm

Show them where good food grows, and how the process takes place from farm to table! For example, you could go strawberry picking up North, or arrange a trip to a dairy farm so they could see where milk comes from. Seeing the food items’ source would develop in them a sense of appreciation for growing things, and they just might be fascinated enough to try romaine lettuce later at dinner!

 

Involve kids in meal planning and preparation

Slowly but surely (and without being too obvious about it), they could grow up to become people who naturally make healthy eating choices. Everything can be a teaching moment!

Even toddlers can help you choose between broccoli or cabbage, or pears or apples when grocery shopping.

 

You could offer them the chance to do simple tasks in the kitchen, like mixing the pre-cut vegetables and dressing in the salad, kneading the dough or mixing batter, or something as quick as setting the table for a meal. Aside from knowing how to prepare healthy food, this will make them feel capable and develop a sense of responsibility.

 

Make healthy snacks available

Stocking up on store-bought high-calorie snacks with refined sugars like cookies or chips is a cop out for snacking. The thing is, we end up eating more of this unhealthy stuff because it doesn’t make us feel full easily. As the adult, you have full control into what they eat. Stock up on healthy snacks in the fridge and shelves!

 

Whenever possible, start serving them 2-3 healthy snacks daily, and see how they start choosing healthy food as they progress. Try light popcorn, carrot sticks with light ranch dressing, celery with hummus, or grain crackers.

 

Be a good example

Eating out with your kid? Choose a fresh salad as a side for your burger instead of fries! Addicted to ice cream? Substitute it with a cold fruit yogurt treat and share it with them. If they see you enjoying eating healthier food, they would likely follow suit.

 

Don’t bribe them with unhealthy junk food after eating something healthy

This will automatically teach them that eating healthy is “hard work,” or is an unpleasant experience that must be followed by a reward in the form of a chocolate bar, or a bag of their favorite potato chips.

 

Opt for natural fruit juices instead of soda

Make smoothies and slushies using in season fruits! Summer’s a good time to experiment with coolers that you could sweeten with sugar alternatives to save calories.

If they reject your method the first time, keep trying. Research shows that most kids need exposure to trying new healthy food (between 5-10) before being won over.

 

Try making sugar-free summer popsicles flavored with all-natural Leaflife Stevia zero-carb sweetener! It’s a perfect snack that your kid would love in this sweltering summer heat.

 

 

Sources: http://www.pbs.org

http://kidshealth.org