New year means new, healthier eating habits for many of us. This is a resolution the whole family should be involved in! Get healthier together with my tips and tricks on How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Foods.
One of the biggest questions I get asked from other moms and family members is “How do you get your kids to eat so healthy?” I will be honest up front, teaching my kids healthy eating habits isn’t always easy. Like many other moms, I have many nights of dealing with tantrums at the dinner table over a bite of broccoli or they fuss about not getting a some triple chocolate brownie dessert when we go out after not touching what was on their dinner plate. It happens! YOU can teach your kids about making smarter food choices though and help them develop the taste for foods like asparagus, kale, sushi, salmon and more so they really enjoy this better eating way of life. It is possible to get to the point that when you get out to eat your child orders grilled chicken with a side of mixed vegetables over fried chicken nuggets and french fries all on their own.
You may enjoy my kids new favorite smoothie recipe for this Almond Butter Smoothie with Greek Yogurt.
How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Foods
Below is my list on How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Foods! It will take time, patience and teaching yourself about nutrition to make it happen but it is worth it! Healthy kids grow into healthy adults and you can give them the skills to live a healthy life.
Let them choose
Give your child choices. By choices I mean let them choose from a few items you have already selected. For example, at snack time, ask “Would you like some carrots, celery with almond butter or an apple?” All these options are healthy and nutrient dense but your child can still feel that sense of control that children want by having a choice.
Another great way to let your children choose what they eat is taking them to the grocery store and letting them pick anything from the produce section. Maybe they pick strawberries or a dragon fruit… maybe some red cabbage or kiwis. Develop a meal around your child’s choice. Your child will be more willing to eat something they handpicked.
Help in the garden
Even if you don’t have a big garden area, a simple planter with some tomatoes on the back deck can be really beneficial and promote healthier eating habits. Let your children see where food comes from, how much effort goes into planting and caring for this food and physically being able to pick that tomato and take it inside to prepare and eat it. Let them build the appreciation for what they eat and a sense of accomplishment for the work put into growing it.
I don’t think you should tell a child to eat something just because it is “healthy”. Tell them WHY. For example, “Eat your carrots because they are good for your pretty eyes and help you see in the dark!” As they get older, expand on the science behind the food. You may also need to research food and read about nutrition so you can teach your children why we eat certain foods regularly and why we eat other foods occasionally. What you teach them now will carry on into adulthood so they can hopefully have a life full of healthy eating with the education you gave them about nutrition.
Let them make bad choices…. Sometimes
Sometimes, you just need to let your child make a bad choice to really understand unhealthy eating and what it does to the body firsthand. If your child is having one of those days where they think they need a bunch of junk food and eat 3 pieces of cake at a friends birthday, well sit back. When they have a tummy ache on the way home, take the time to educate your child and share why their body is in pain and discuss what would have been some better options at the party to not get a tummy ache. Like maybe just one treat!
Make food fun. Create butterfly shaped oatmeal pancakes and have the kids decorate it with fresh fruits, yogurt, granola or jam. Add some super color powders like this Pink Pitaya from Suncore to muffin mix, smoothies and more for a vibrant meal that will get your little ones excited!
Try to loosen up control in the kitchen and let the kids prepare meals with you. Gather your patience, accept the mess ahead and let the kids whisk and stir and measure and taste test. As they get older, show them how to safely use a knife and cook meat. A lot of education can take place the kitchen from counting, measuring, learning about volume and mass, the science of baking and what particular ingredients do when combined, how to follow instructions from a recipe or to be creative to make something new. Most importantly, letting the little ones help in the kitchen teaches them that lifelong lesson so they cook for their own families to put healthy meals on the table later in life.
Introduce new foods
Regularly introduce new foods. It is easy to get into that grind of buying the same 5 meals over and over and over again because the kids don’t complain too much and they affordable or easy or whatever the reason. I catch myself doing the same sometimes. Be strategic with your grocery list. Plan meals around the healthy stuff and cut back the boxed, bagged and canned items. A great way to not get into a rut of eating the same foods over and over is to buy seasonal. Seasonal produce and fish are typically a great price so those are the two places to start when writing down that weekly grocery list. Buying seasonal also allows you to introduce those new foods into your child’s diet. If your child doesn’t like the food the first time they try it, introduce it again in a different way. Use a different cooking method or switch up the seasoning. I think every food out there can be delicious- if prepared right way so find out what is “right” for your family with trial and error.
Be a role model
The most important tip I have to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Foods is to be a great role model. Be active, eat all sort of healthy foods prepared in different ways, educate yourself on nutrition and make good food choices! Lead by example.
Do you have any tips on How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Foods? If so, let me know in the comments below or feel free to share your struggles and questions.