Do your children resist all of your efforts to feed them healthy food? The best way to address this issue is by creating excitement about mealtime.
If you succeed, you will get your children on the right path for the rest of their lives. Try to implement these ways to get your kids to eat healthy food:
1. Be A Good Role-model
First things first: if you want your kids to eat healthy you need to eat healthy too. Kids, especially the young ones will follow your example.
Don’t expect them to eat their carrots if you order takeout, buy prepared foods at the supermarket and have your grocery cabinets stocked with sugary cereal and soda.
Perhaps you need to take an honest look at your eating patterns and evaluate whether you need to re-educate yourself on the principles of healthy eating.
2. Make Mealtime Family-time
Make an effort to make mealtimes special for kids and that does not mean sitting in front of the TV. Set the table and get the kids to help if they’re old enough.
Sit down to eat and enjoy the food you prepared, while talking about fun things like school or plans for the weekend or Holidays.
3. Cut the Crap
A lot of food marketed towards kids is actually highly processed food. Kids don’t need French Fries, pizza and chicken nuggets despite what the commercials and ads tell us.
Try to switch TV channels when commercials are on or keep them otherwise engaged. Of course you can’t shield your child from ever eating bad foods, but the longer you can shield them the better.
Lay a solid foundation now, so they will reap the benefits later in life.
You should also remove or limit artificial food coloring and sweeteners for their diets as it has proven to be an important cause of ADHD.
4. Add Color
Kids like color. When you are arranging your children’s plates, add as much color as you possibly can. You will draw their attention to their food and hopefully some of it will then make it into their mouths!
You can find lots of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors. For example, red strawberries, green edamame beans, yellow bananas and orange bell peppers will all add aesthetic (and nutritional) value to their plates.
It is possible to add color in other ways as well. For example, consider picking up a fun place mat to set your child’s plate on. Getting them to sit at the table is half the battle, after all.
5. Arrange The Food Into Different Shapes
Make meal time fun by arranging the food into different shapes. For example, create a crazy face out of grapes, strawberries and bell pepper. Add hair made out of pasta.
You can also cut sandwiches into a variety of different shapes; one trick to make the process easier is to use a cookie cutter to help you. Your kids can also get in on the fun. Allow them to use a cookie cutter with supervision to get their food just the way they want it.
Almost any type of food can be rearranged into something amazing. Cooking up pancakes stuffed with a bit of zucchini? Turn them into monster faces for your adventure-loving boy or snowmen for your little girl.
Kids like faces and figures the best, but you can also create scenes that have grass and the sun in them. And don’t forget about animals! There is so much you can do with food.
6. Add Dips
Condiments can make a boring meal exciting. Does your child have a favorite sauce or dressing? Encourage them to eat new foods by allowing them to dunk the pieces into a variety of condiments.
For example, you could set out ranch dressing, ketchup, or even melted cheese.
And, if you want to dress up their plates, squeeze a little bit of the condiment onto their plate to make a word or a shape.
Ketchup can easily be turned into a heart, for example.
7. Come Up With Fun Names
Fruits and vegetables don’t always have the best names. After all, what child is going to squeal with joy when you tell him or her that they are having zucchini for dinner? Switch up the names to make them fun.
For example, turn carrot sticks into orange swords or broccoli into leafy trees.
There is even research to support this idea. A study found that children ate more food when it had names that were appealing to them.
8. Cut It Up
Make sure to give your children food in bite sized portions. This small change often encourages them to eat more, because it is easier for them to pick up and to chew.
For example, rather than giving your child an entire hamburger, simply cut it up. You could even separate the different elements, slicing up the patty and then the bread and allowing your child to eat it they way the want.
9. Turn your kids into little chefs
Allow your kids to assist you in the meal making process. Children are more likely to eat food that they have helped cook.
You can also involve them in planning the meals for the week ahead and shopping for the groceries.
10. Make Breakfast a Priority
Most moms know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet there are still kids being sent to school without having eaten a proper meal.
Kids need breakfast to function properly during the day and to prevent their bodies from going into starvation mode. This will cause them to binge later and lead to whole range of weight problems later in life.
Start the day with breakfast which includes protein, wholegrain carbs and healthy fats. Oatmeal cooked with almond milk and a banana would be a great start!
11. Pack Healthy Snacks
Pack healthy snacks in the kids school backpacks or when you go out for the day. This will keep the kids’ (and yours!) energy levels up. Some kid friendly healthy snacks include:
- Trail mix
- Fresh fruit like grapes, bananas and apples
- Single serve yogurts
- Pre-packed cheese wedges
- Dried fruits like apricots, raisins and apples
- Whole grain crackers with peanut or almond butter
12. Allow For Some Treats
Don’t go overboard and deny your kids ALL unhealthy foods; it’s just not realistic. Every now and then a little snack is fine, just don’t overdo it.
The 80/20 rule is something I apply for lots of things and also applies here. It’s all about balance. Or as Elmo used to say: “Cookies are a sometimes food”
Getting kids to eat healthy foods is not difficult, but does require some planning and persistence. Use these tips to get your family on the right track.