Is your child a picky eater? Do you feel a little guilty that their diet might not be as healthy or as well-rounded as it should? Are you providing healthy eating for your kids?
Getting a child to eat the healthy foods we put in front of them is a common challenge. Yet, there is no hesitation when treats are on the menu,which just adds to the frustration.
When you see a plate of untouched vegetables and your child throws a tantrum saying he or she is hungry, you wouldn’t be the first parent to give in. So, don’t be too hard on yourself.
However, you have to remember two things: you’re in control, and it’s for the greater good that you encourage them to start eating healthier foods.
Getting kids to eat healthier is a nationwide problem that has some serious health implications. In the U.S., the percentage of children who are obese has tripled since the ‘70s.
Obesity comes with a number of health issues, many of which affect children throughout their lives. There is also a risk of children developing eating disorders or following a pattern of unhealthy eating into adulthood.
There are more than enough reasons to make sure your child eats a well-balanced, healthy diet. If you’re looking for tips to help you get your kid to eat healthier foods, below are 7 tactics to try.
Set a Good Example
There is plenty of research proving that kids copy their parents, for both the good and the bad. They want to eat what you eat, or at the very least try what you eat.
So, the first step to getting your kid to eat healthier foods starts with them seeing you eating the same foods.
Offer a Wide Variety of Healthy Foods
There is a power play behind offering a wide range of healthy foods for your child. Kids prefer feeling like they’re in control, and they also like having options. It’s also just a good way to find out which foods they like.
Don’t try to mix different vegetables together at this point. Keep the foods separate so they can see the different colors and textures and gain a better understanding of how different foods feel and taste.
Don’t Tell Them Different Foods Are “Good” or “Bad”
Kids are very good at connecting different words together and associating what they mean. It’s how they learn to string words together and start building their own sentences. If you refer to foods as either “good” or “bad” they will attach the word “bad” to the foods they don’t like, and it will make it harder to change their minds later.
A better method is explaining how different foods help with activities in which they are interested. For example, explain that carrots are good for eyesight and help them read, meat will help them grow stronger so they play better, and so on.
Make It Fun for Them
You know your child better than anyone else when it comes to what makes them smile and have fun. Maybe he or she would like having their food arranged in the shape of a face to make mealtime more fun. Or, you could sing a song your child likes and change the lyrics to something food-related.
The goal is to make mealtime fun, while not being too distracting or getting the kids too hyped up. It’s about making sure they don’t feel like there’s pressure on them to eat the food you put out.
Keep Healthy Foods Readily Available
Your kids only eats what’s available to them around your home. If they spot chocolate bars on the kitchen counter, this gets their attention. Likewise, if you only have a well-stocked fruit bowl, that catches their eye.
As explained earlier, setting a good example applies to snacking in between meals. When they see you taking fruit from the fruit bowl, they want the fruit, too.
Get Them Involved in Meal Prep
Kids like to be involved in everything, as I’m sure you know. If you involve them in the meal prep, it increases the likelihood of them eating the food when it’s in front of them.
This means letting them pick foods in the supermarket, having them help out in the kitchen, and even setting out everyone’s plates.
The more invested they are in the meal, the higher the likelihood they will eat it. Plus, it’s a fun experience and helps them develop healthy eating habits for your kids.
Minimize Distractions at Mealtimes
It’s fairly common to have the TV on at mealtime. The problem with a kid who’s a fussy eater, however, is that he or she uses distractions to waste time and avoid eating.
If you don’t currently sit around a dining table as a family at mealtime, it’s time to start if you want to instill healthy eating for your kids. There is scientific research showing that children who eat in a structured setting at a dining table eat healthier foods than kids who don’t.
How do you get your children to make good food choices? Learn more today about how children acquire healthy eating habits to ensure that your kid grows up healthy and strong.