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We all want our kids to eat healthy, so they can have a healthy diet and lifestyle now and in the future.
However, this can often be easier said than done.
Getting our kids to eat healthier can be a challenge when we ourselves were raised with unhealthy relationships with food, especially since fast food places are all over the place.
To give our kids the best chance at eating healthy, we have to offer a variety of healthy options, teach them why healthy food is important, and change the whole family’s relationship with food into a healthy one.
Here are some tips on how to get your kids to eat healthier without resorting to bribery or threats.
Start a garden
A garden is an amazing tool to get your child to eat healthier. When your child learns where foods come from and the process of growing their new foods doesn’t seem so scary and children tend to care a bit more about the types of food they are eating.
Make the garden a family affair having your child help grow your food from start to finish.
Most kids find harvesting the garden exciting and once the food starts to become ripe on a regular basis your child may be willing to start snacking on the fresh fruits and veggies right out of your garden.
You can use the garden as a tool for teaching your child about nutrition as well.
When you add fresh compost or fertilizer you are helping give your plants nutrition that helps them grow and in turn, make your plants more nutritious for your family.
Talk to your child about how the same concept works for the human body and the more we make a point to eat healthily the healthier and stronger we will be.
Teach your kids to cook
Spending time together cooking gives you a chance to work towards a healthier diet by cooking for yourselves and teaching your kids how to plan healthy balanced meals.
Use this time to talk to your kids about the nutritional value of foods and ask them to come up with ideas on how you can add more nutrition to your meals as you cook them.
This is a great way to get the conversation going about eating to keep your body healthy.
Gather a few healthy kids cookbooks to use as inspiration or give recipes a try from around the world to help explore cultures and geography in new areas to make food take on a new and exciting twist that can help encourage your kids to try new healthy foods and perhaps find a few favorites.
Set a good example
Let your kids see you eating healthy.
Grab fruits and vegetables instead of going for chips and candies. The more your kids see you going for healthy foods the more likely your kids will be willing to do the same.
Treat food as fuel and look for foods that are high in nutritional value when choosing healthy snacks for yourself, let your kids see you eating the salad before the fun stuff at meals, and take the time to talk to your child about basic nutrition on a regular basis.
The relationship we have with food set the stage for our kids.
Avoid crash and fad diets along with talking poorly about your weight. Putting the focus on a healthy and energetic body helps to show your child what a healthy relationship with food looks like.
This can be a hard change to make with the social conditioning we have to push us towards fad diets, junk food, and generally unhealthy relationships with food.
Offer healthy meals and snacks often
Kids are always hungry and need plenty of snacks. Offering healthy fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources for snacks is a great way to help your child eat more healthy foods than they would if offered a variety of junk food snacks.
While you should still offer fun snacks occasionally to help avoid your child obsessing over them they should be worked into your diet not as a big threat but in moderation to help make junk food seem less enticing.
Add small amounts of treats with healthy foods instead of withholding
Try something new and weird at the same time.
Instead of denying your child fun treats you can create an unhealthy obsession with them.
By giving your child a small fun treat with meals rather than after, they are more likely to eat their entire meal or at least a good portion of it rather than say they are full in hopes of getting a big sweet treat after the meal like many families do with deserts.
Families that get children into the habit of large doses of sugar after a meal often struggle with getting kids to eat enough of their real food. This can become a frustrating fight with your kids that never seems to come to an end.
Traditional desserts can be a fun treat at big events but should not be part of your everyday diet.
Teach your child that food is fuel
When we take the approach of food as fuel we train our minds to look for food that will provide it energy and nutrition.
This can lead to naturally healthier choices and can often do better than willpower when it comes to making wise dietary choices.
The younger we instill this in our children when they are young they will make wiser choices when they are older as well.
Older kids could have set ways of eating, so it can turn into a hassle into getting them to eat healthily, but not impossible. Persistence is key here. Do not give up.
So many of us grew up with the eat what you are given mentality that it can be hard to let this go and just give our children a bit more freedom with food.
While we may want to cook more than one meal you can still offer choices by keeping things like salads, healthy sandwich fixings, and other odds and ends in the house for your kids to take advantage of should they not like the meal you cooked.
This helps ensure they get a healthy meal and don’t end up binging on junk food later.
Encourage your child to make their own plate choosing each dish they want to include.
This teaches your child that they don’t have to eat something just because it is there but because that is what they want or how much they want.
This can lead to a healthier relationship with food.
So, how can we get our kids to eat healthier?
It’s not easy, but it is possible.
Let’s start by being a role model and having healthy eating habits for our children and setting good examples.
We can also make sure that healthy foods are readily available and easily accessible in the home.
And finally, let’s praise our kids when they do make healthy choices – even if those choices are small ones.
With a little effort on our part, we can help our kids develop lifelong habits of healthy eating.