When it comes to the best way to raise kids, parents can have different opinions on the matter. And while we’re still trying to figure that out, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: teaching our kids to have healthy eating habits will help them grow into beautiful, happy adults.
Why is it important for your kid to learn about having a good diet? Eating well supports your child’s healthy growth and may even play a significant role in lowering physical and mental health risks.
When addressing the idea of healthy eating for children, the power of habit is key. If you teach them about good nutrition soon enough, you increase their chances of developing into healthy and happy adults.
But how do you do so?
How to get kids to eat healthily
For good nutrition, try these 3 simple habits to make mealtimes go a little smoother with your picky eaters and guide them towards the right direction.
Cook more meals at home
Cooking at home can have a huge impact on your kid’s health.
While takeout meals represent an easier and faster way to deal with your kid’s hunger, remember that restaurant food usually has more added sugar and unhealthy fat. This can lead to hyperactivity, mood disorders, and an increase in risk of obesity.
Get kids involved
Take your kid shopping for groceries with you and involve them in preparing meals. Teaching kids about nutrients, different foods, and how to read labels is an important part of their development.
Limit portion sizes
We all remember how our grannies would insist on finishing our full plate and even bring us the second portion of that dish - even if we didn’t ask for it. While they were filled with good intentions, this doesn’t mean that we should follow their example. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, let them eat how much they can and want. It is also advised not to use food as a reward or bribe.
Tips & tricks to get your kids eating healthy
Ok so you’ve tried everything and your kid’s still reluctantly putting the vegetables away. What if we’d tell you that we’ve still got some tricks up our sleeve? To make nutritious meals more appealing to your kids, follow the tips below.
Disguise the taste of healthier foods
Rather than hiding the taste, try changing the taste. Wet cooking methods (steaming, boiling) are very different from dry cooking methods (grilling, sauteing, roasting) and each of them creates different flavors. Additionally, you can mix vegetables with beef stew, mash carrots with mashed potato, or add a sweet dip to different fruit slices.
Find healthier alternatives to junk food
Fast food is usually just unhealthy fat - high in sugar and calories, but low in nutrients.
However, your kid might still have cravings or be tempted to try junk food, especially in times where fast-processed foods are found everywhere. Instead of eliminating it, try to cut back on the times your kid eats fast food. But when this happens, it is important to make the healthiest choices possible.
Limit sugar and refined carbs
Unlike complex carbohydrates that are high in nutrients and fiber and provide long-lasting energy, refined carbs are stripped of all nutrients and can cause spikes in blood sugar and fluctuations in mood and energy. White bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and many breakfast cereals are some examples of refined carbs.
Thus, it is important to limit sugar and refined carbs in your child’s diet, without banning them completely. Forbidding certain foods is not a solution as it can easily backfire.
Healthy eating for families
“What if my kid already eats junk food and likes it? Is it too late to teach them about healthy eating?”
Kids aren’t just born with a craving for junk food and avoidance of broccoli. This happens as they are exposed more to certain food choices. Luckily, it’s never too late to introduce a nutritious diet into one’s life.
A healthy diet can help your child regain control of their health. And yes, it is possible to ‘reprogram’ your kid’s food preferences so they are more inclined towards healthier options. Kids learn these healthy habits through direct experiences with food and the power of example.
A final note
The sooner you introduce nutritious choices into a child’s diet, the easier it will be for them to develop a healthy relationship with food. Teaching kids about healthy eating doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. All you have to do is follow the tips above and remember to be a role model for your kid. The most important secret that you need to know is that childhood impulse to imitate is really strong, so that’s where you need to work on.