5 Tips for getting Children to Eat Healthy

boy eating vegetables
Getting kids to eat healthily these days can seem a like an impossible task, especially with the multitude of junk food available to them. However, it’s not an insurmountable task when good habits are put in place, along with some basic common sense. With some of these basic tips you can get your children eating (and enjoying) the good stuff.

Set a Good Example

Not only should you eat with your kids as much as possible, but it’s also crucial that you eat the kind of foods that you, as a parent, want them to eat. Habits are caught, not taught! It’s no good ordering yourself takeout or junk food and then expecting your child to wolf down a salad! Children are naturally inquisitive, so why not share your love of certain healthy foods with them and make some fun family recipes?

Rather than taking the easy route and letting them eat processed foods, try to create a healthier version of their favorites. For instance, breadcrumb some fresh chicken fillets to make homemade chicken nuggets. Serve with fresh, baked American fries, and throw in some greens for good measure. Also, make sure to stock up on fruit in the house, so when it’s snack time, the kids will reach for a banana rather than a bag of chips.

Educate with Positive Reinforcement (NOT negative)

Educating children about the benefits of healthy food doesn’t have to bore your child to no end. Instead, try to describe what healthy foods actually do for the body, as well as explaining the benefits of eating well, in a way which will interest a child.

The key is to make sure that healthy foods are linked by positive reinforcement. Don’t label food types as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Instead, try to convey how they affect the human body in real terms. Try linking vegetables to a popular cartoon character; Think Popeye and his love of spinach. Linking healthy foods to a positive message is a simple but effective method.

Don’t reward children with junk food. That isn’t to say an occasional sugary snack is prohibited. Just make sure to react positively when your child makes a healthy food choice. Banning junk food is not the answer; it will only serve to make your child want it more in the long term.

Make Dinnertime an Event

Mealtime shouldn’t just be about the process of eating; rather, it should be valued as an occasion and a time to be relished. Dinnertime, In particular, is a great time to get the family together! A good idea is to create a meal plan together as a family to ensure each family member participates and feels a part of the meal process. It’s easy to create a family meal planner and can be fun as well.

A hurried dinner in front of the TV will highlight that meal times aren’t that important and encourage bad habits.

Get kids involved in the kitchen

What better way to get kids to fully appreciate what’s going into their meal than by involving them in the cooking process?

When you can identify the particulars of what goes into a meal and can distinguish between fresh and processed foods, that ‘gross looking green stuff’ might suddenly become a lot more appealing!

Remember, kids like to feel in control so let them taste new and different foods during meal preparations. This helps kids feel like they’re part of the decision making process. In this way you can determine what veggies they like and what veggies they don’t.

Patience

Children by nature are often fearful of new foods. Make sure that when preparing meals they don’t have too much on their plate. This way, if they don’t like a certain type of food the first time ’round they won’t become overwhelmed and may be inclined to try the food again in the future.

Don’t allow your children to develop prejudices towards food. Introduce new foods in small portions on a frequent basis and with any luck, eating healthy will become a natural part of their mentality.

Photo via: fotoroto

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