Most parents know that there are times when it can be an uphill battle to get your child to eat those foods that are healthy for them. It can be even more difficult when you have just made the decision to eat healthier yourself, and want your family to eat healthier too.
Your children aren’t going to want to give up those fatty hamburgers, greasy french fries, and big helpings of chocolate cake, without a fight, unless you find some inventive ways to encourage your child to eat healthier.
Here are a few ways that you can do that:
Don’t Take An All Or Nothing Approach
Now that you have decided to eat healthier, you are probably anxious to get started immediately. However you don’t want to take an all or nothing approach with your child when it comes to eating healthier. Start with a few small or moderate changes, or focus on eating one healthier meal a day for starters, and then slowly work into eating healthier all day long.
Remember that eating healthy doesn’t mean that your child can never enjoy that hamburger and those fries, your goal is to make these kinds of foods available on a limited basis, not to do away with them all together.
Involve Your Child When Shopping For Healthier Food Options
Whether your child is a toddler, a teenager, or somewhere in between, giving them the opportunity to help shop for groceries and choose the healthy foods they want to try and eat, will more likely result in more satisfaction at meals and less friction.
Tell your child that they can choose the fresh vegetable or fruit that they want to eat with their dinner on Tuesday, or whatever day of the week, or even two or three days, and then serve those foods.
Studies show that children who get to help pick out the healthy food they eat are more likely to eat the foods they have chosen them themselves. You may also want to allow them to choose healthy fruits and vegetables for their sack lunch at school, or their after school snacks.
Find Ways To Give Those Healthy Foods More Kid Appeal
When trying to get younger children to eat healthier, it always helps to give those healthy foods a bit of kid appeal. Foods that appear festive and fun are just begging to be eaten, and most kids won’t be able to resist eating those foods that look visually appealing to them.
For example, why not try cutting some block cheese into bite size squares and alternating them on a long fancy toothpick with fruit such as grapes and pieces of melon.
Making these fun and friendly little fruit and cheese shish kabobs to go with lunch, is sure to make the entire lunch more fun and encourage them to eat healthy fruits more easily. (You can also make these little shish kabobs using all fruit as well)
You can make tossed salads more appealing by using small servings and adding ingredients such as walnuts and apple bites. Use your imagination and a good recipe book to find a variety of healthy kid-friendly recipes, and then keep those recipes your children really seem to enjoy.
Allow Your Children To Help Prepare The Meal
Allowing your children to help prepare meals will increase the likelihood that they will eat more of these healthy foods. Even very small children can tear lettuce, and pour per-measured ingredients into a mixing bowl. Teenagers can if they want to prepare entire meals by themselves.
Letting them prepare healthy spaghetti, squash spaghetti filled with the sauce, filled with a variety of vegetables, or healthy pizzas, will not only get them to want to eat healthier, but will also help them to learn that they can still enjoy their favorite meals made in healthier ways.
One Bite At A Time
When introducing new healthy foods to your child, especially young children, try using the one bite approach. Simply place a bite of the new dish on your child’s plate for them to taste, or allow older children to help themselves to the amount they want to try.
If they like it and want more, then allow them to have as much as they want. If they don’t like their one bite taste, then don’t force them to eat more. Simply give them another bite the next time you serve the dish.
In many cases, taste for certain foods are acquired. The more accustomed your child becomes to tasting certain foods, the more likely it is that they will grow to like it given enough time.
There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of healthy foods available for your family to eat. This allows you to be flexible when you prepare foods. If your family really dislikes one food, then find some other healthy food they do like and serve that. Flexibility will greatly increase the chances of your entire family jumping on the eating healthier bandwagon.
Lead By Example
Most importantly, you need to lead by example. For example, if you don’t eat those healthy vegetables, then how can you expect your children to? If you spend that hour before bedtime snacking on potato chips or unhealthy cookies, then it isn’t going to work when you tell your child to eat fat free yogurt for their bedtime snack.
The healthier you eat, the more likely it is that your children will soon be following suit.
Getting your children to eat healthier is simply a matter of setting a good example, and being creative in making child friendly foods, while allowing your child to both have a voice in some of these food choices and in preparing these meals.
Are mealtimes a battleground in your house? Do you struggle to get your children to eat healthier foods? Or do you have clever ways to ensure they eat healthier?