8 Best Ways to Get Kids to Eat Healthy by Julia Kelle
Among tempting junk and fast food it’s a real challenge to teach kids to choose healthy meal, but also there are so many creative and fun ways to develop such healthy habits without making it feeling like work for kids. By fun games and interesting talks, we can teach our kids all about healthy eating in a way that is both fun and easily understandable. With preschoolers it’s much easier and no problems if parents take care to have only healthy foods in a kitchen, and kids just won’t see any other options except for healthy food. A real “battle” against “appetizing and tempting” junk food and candies for kids health starts with school age kids. My daughter, for example, after 2 year breast milk successfully “switched” to healthy lacto vegetarian meal and up to 4 year old never! tried candies and other junk foods. However, with growing and social development kids get more options for their selection and it’s very important to help them to make their right choice. And I’d love to share some of my ways of such successful experience to help your kids to choose and become healthy eaters:
1.Be a good example – Eat healthy food with your kid whenever possible. Also, don’t forget to put oranges, bananas, or other fruits in your bag for quick snacks. Family meals are perfect to let lids to focus on the eating of healthy food and give you a chance to be an excellent role model. Though it takes some efforts to bring everyone together for meals, but it’s worth it and the whole family eats better. Let your kid see you enjoying fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other healthy food at eating meals. Try to show your kid how to make healthy choices and explain why, for example: it’s awesome, delicious etc. ! And don’t forget to show joyful emotions on your face 🙂
2. Offer a wide range of healthy food – It’s very helpful to vary the choice of cereals, range of whole grain bread, fruits and vegetables to give a chance to a kid to make the own choice. Usually kids don’t like vegetables, for example broccoli, and if mix it with the other healthy food that a kid enjoys to eat and other options of vegetables, for example, cauliflower, green peas, bell pepper and tomatoes it’s a chance for your kid to enjoy broccoli in such prepared mixture as well. Also, let your kid choose a new vegetable to add to a soup, especially preschoolers enjoys to be “adult” and involved in a meal preparation. Put rinsed and cut fruits and vegetables in bowl or on a shelf in a refrigerator where kids can see them and choose for eating by themselves. Don’t worry if your kids are really hungry they “sweep away” everything you prepared for them with a great pleasure.
3. Start with small portions – Offer kids small, easy-to-eat amounts to make eating easy and more enjoyable. Use special smaller bowls, plates, and utensils decorated with smart toys for your kid to eat with.
Never insist that children finish all the food on their plate. But don’t forget to show your joy if your kids have eaten all the food on their plate.
If your kids are ready and able, allow them to serve themselves and their toys and pets 🙂 It’s important to allow children to recognize when they are hungry or full. Teach them to take small amounts at first. Tell them they can get more if they are still hungry.
Even 3 to 5 year old kids can practice serving and learn new skills with pleasure to feel themselves as “all grown up.”
4. Help kids try new healthy meal – Many preschoolers are hesitant to try new foods. But be patient, it is completely normal for school-age kids to reject foods they have never tried before. Don’t lecture or force your child to eat, just kindly offer and encourage your kid to try healthy foods you’ve chosen. Be a good role model by trying new healthy foods yourself and describe its taste, texture, and smell emotionally and positive.
To get kids to try new things it’s very helpful to play with food to get kids engaged with different dishes. How, you may ask? By making the food funny-looking of course! By creating silly faces, using funny designs, and even simply slicing foods differently, they’re getting kids to dig in to dinners with more fervor than before.
5. Let kids help in the kitchen – Kids do love eating food that they create. Encourage your kids to help you prepare healthy meals and snacks. Even a two-year old kids can help peel potatoes or carrots. Teach them to tear lettuce or add spices to a soup. Cooking together can be a perfect enjoyable time for both parents and kids.
Involve your children in healthy cooking or snack preparation and they will be more likely to eat new healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables.
Some simple tips for creativity in the kitchen:
1. Name a food your child helps create, for example, Sarah’s Salad” or ” John’s Pumpkin Soup” for dinner.
2. Cut soft vegetables or fruits or other healthy food chosen into fun and easy shapes with cookie cutters.
3. Encourage your kids to invent and help prepare new snacks or sweeties by themselves. For example, make your own trail mixes from dry cereal and dried fruit or dried fruit sweeties etc.
4. Have your kids make towers out of whole-grain crackers, spell words with berries or green peas, or make funny faces on a plate using different types of fruit.
5. Jazz up the taste of vegetables with colorful healthy dressings.
6. Make mealtime an enjoyable time – Try to make meals a stress-free time and talk about fun and happy things. Turn off the television as well as take phone calls or texts later. Encourage your child to try foods. But never lecture or force your child to eat the healthy food at a mealtime. Try to make a kid feel really happy and think positive about the prepared healthy food at a mealtime.
7. Grow a garden and sprouts togetherr – All kids are very successful in interactive learning. By growing a garden or sprouts with them, you can not only give them the tools they need to be an expert home botanist, you’ll pique their curiosity for different foods since they had a hand in growing them! Also, kids will enjoy your talks about vegetables and fruits you grow and their taste. And usually kids find very delicious the food they have grown in their garden by themselves.
8. Be positive and discourage kids and other family members from making yucky faces or negative comments about new healthy food. Also, never use food as rewards, bribes, or punishments.
Sure, it’s great to take kids out for a picnic after a good (or even a bad) baseball or tennis game, just no sense to use it as a reward for a good game. Also, never punish kids for not eating whatever foods — it can only foster a negative relationship between you and your kids as well as between your kids and the food.
And the most important for best results it’s to love and accept your kids at any weight, size, shape or whatever they like or dislike to eat.
Be patient and good luck!