Parents understand that it is important to make healthier food choices. However, they wonder what they can do in order to encourage their kids eat fruits instead of donuts. Eating habits are learned behaviors, so you can use a few strategies to ensure the long-term nutritional health of your child. You should keep in mind that variety, balance, and moderation matter. This will help you make healthier products a food pattern that your kids will love.
- Become a good role model.
Children often refuse to eat fruits and vegetables because they see that their parents consume packaged foods and sodas. We cannot expect our kids to eat differently, as they want to be like their parents. Moreover, if you cannot cook or do not like it, even magic recipes won’t make your meal tasty, so you need to educate yourself about what a healthy diet is, improve your cooking skills, and then practice what you consider right.
- Talk about what you eat.
Children know a little about healthier products, so do your best to explain why these products are good for them. It is better to provide details. For example, it is not a good idea to tell something like, “Green peas are good for you.” Provide additional explanation instead: “Green peas contain proteins that help you strengthen your muscles, so you will be strong and fast.” In other words, tell your kids what good foods can do for them.
- Shop together with your kids.
Although many parents think that shopping together with their kids is a nightmare, this is the best way to build a connection with good, healthy foods. Kids will be able to explore, ask questions, and learn how raw foods look like and where they come from. If your kid appears to be interested in a certain type of foods, let him or her take it and try. This is the best way to let your kids make their own decisions. However, don’t forget to follow the recommendations on how to shop for healthy food correctly.
- Avoid buying into marketing for kids.
Producers of highly processed foods state that their products are good for your kids, save your time, and so keep everyone happy. However, prepared meals are usually loaded with synthetic fats, chemicals, artificial sweeteners, food colorings, and additives. You should just read the label to find out that such products are unhealthy and only marketing ads make them look attractive.
- Develop good mealtime habits.
You can use different suggestions to make a mealtime special. You need to ensure that everyone sits down and simply enjoys the food. It is important to savor flavors, relax, and have small talks. It is a good idea to let the kids set the table, bring flowers, and help you serve a dinner. Make sure not to allow mealtimes to become family argument time and turn off mobile phones.
- Make the meal look attractive.
We eat with our eyes first, so spend some time to present food. Obviously, if the meal looks visually pleasing, your kids will want to try it. This does not mean that you have to construct something complicated; you can instead make it colorful and spatial. Your kids will love a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. You can also try other simple structures or shapes on a plate. Have fun and use your imagination!
- Let your kids help you prepare a dinner.
Kids like trying new things. You can play “restaurant” while you are chopping a salad or serving fruits. When you take a bite out of something, your kids will also want to try it, so they will have healthy snacks and get used to better foods. More importantly, they will want to try something that they helped to make. This is a simple strategy to encourage your kids to try something that they normally do not want to eat.
- Give them smoothies.
Smoothies are the right choice if you have a tough time with a very picky little eater. You can make smoothies with nuts, yogurt, juice, fruits, and veggies. This is an easy way to load healthy nutrients into a “meal.” If you see that your kid likes smoothies, you can tell him or her what ingredients make it so tasty. There is a chance that your kid would like to try raw fruits or vegetables.
- Make healthier foods sweet.
Raw or steamed vegetables keep all the nutrients alive inside of them, but they often taste bad. You can make them sweet by roasting them with a little bit of coconut oil or olive oil, so the vegetables get that super great crisped golden exterior that both adults and kids like very much. Veggies that taste like candies, what can be better for your kids? You might be surprised, but you will have to buy more broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot.
- Do not use food as punishments, rewards, or bribes.
This is a common mistake that parents make in order to make their kids eat real foods. Of course, it is a good idea to take the kids out for ice cream after a school week, just make sure not to use it as an incentive for studying. You should also avoid punishing children for not eating certain foods because this is how you foster a negative relationship between your child and food, not to mention between you and your child.
- Do your best in order to make your kid eat breakfast.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so make sure that your child eats everything. Ideally, it should be the largest meal of the day because after a long sleep it is important to refuel the engines and jumpstart the metabolism. Typically, a healthy breakfast should be around 500 calories and include a source of protein, whole grains (source of carbohydrates), some healthy fats, and vitamins. If your kid does not want to eat in the morning, he or she should practice eating breakfast.
- Be flexible.
While you can shop for healthier foods, try new recipes, and make the meal attractive, you should be flexible and remember that anything in moderation is fine. For instance, it is ok to have a cookie every day or have a popcorn in the cinema from time to time. A special treat once a week or even more frequently will not do any damage. Eating should be an enjoyable experience, so do not limit yourself and your kids too strictly.
The aforementioned tips will help you get your kids to eat healthier. Every kid is a personality with different tastes, so do not insist if he or she refuses to eat something. Accept your children no matter what and help them find out what healthier foods and beverages they like. Providing alternatives is the best way to develop good eating habits and teach your kids how to choose the right products.