As a parent of a picky eater, I love these great tips for teaching kids to eat healthy.
How to get kids eat healthy? That could be a tough question to answer! Between picky eaters and tantrums at the dinner table, it can feel like McDonalds drive-thru is a simple solution for meals at times. Don’t throw in the towel on getting your kids eating healthy yet. Here are my tips and tricks for raising healthy eaters.
Introduce a variety of foods to your kids starting out from their very first foods. In my household, chicken nuggets is a last minute back up plan. I offer a different meal every day and try to avoid getting stuck on chicken, rice and green beans every night of the week. Although, we do get into our ruts like I’m sure most families do. Put effort into meal planning. Write a grocery list before shopping and choose a variety of foods. Sometimes, I pick a “theme” for the week like chicken. Then, I find 6 completely different recipes to cook throughout the week with chicken. You can grill it with BBQ sauce and corn on the cob, next night dump some in the crockpot with taco seasoning and bell pepper for fajitas, the following night throw some chicken in the oven with cream of mushroom and rice, and so on.
Teach your kids about nutrition and what is healthy about the foods they are eating and also what isn’t so healthy about some foods they eat. My son is now eight years old and frequently quizzes me on all the nutrition facts I have taught him over the years. “Mom, why are carrots good for you?” ” Why is ice cream a treat?” Conversations like this is fun at the dinner table and educational for your entire family. If we are eating bell pepper for example, I will ask what other foods have a lot of Vitamin C? It’s okay if you have to look up some information before dinner to bring up in conversation, we are all learning.
Let your kids cook in the kitchen with you. Start at a young age, let them mix or pour from the measuring cup. As they mature, begin to teach them how to safely use kitchen gadgets and knives. My son has been making his own breakfast, lunch, and snacks for years now. He feels comfortable in the kitchen and knows what he is allowed to touch and what he needs to permission or help with. Cooking in the kitchen is important for getting your kids eating healthy because they have experience cooking and touching different ingredients. Plus, if they are working hard helping you chop vegetables and watching the meat cook in the oven and making sure the water for the pasta doesn’t boil over, then they are now invested. By letting the kids help, they have invested their time and energy into cooking and want to eat it, no matter what it is.
I have a big rule at the grocery store. DO NOT ask mommy for anything unless we get to the produce section. Once in the produce section, my kids can pick whatever they would like. Let them shop. My son picked out a dragon fruit not too long ago. I had to google how to eat it before we left the store in case I needed to buy something to go with it to ensure it was edible. So sometimes, it is a new experience for me too. The grocery cart gets filled with apples, bananas, mangos, pineapples, kale, spinach, carrots, bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and whatever else they find. Plan your meals around the kids purchase choices. If they pick strawberries and spinach, think of a meal to make! Strawberry and almond spinach salads with some salmon? Yum. The kids get so excited because they picked the meal and it sounds good. Guess what? If they picked it, they will eat it without argument.
Once a week or so, allow a treat day. Pick up some ice cream or McDonald’s or order pizzas. It is important to still allow your kids to eat some unhealthy foods too. Make sure your kids acknowledge and understand that foods such as ice cream are okay in moderation and are not meant to be eaten every day. I believe treat days are important for getting your kids to eat healthy not just as kids but as they go into adulthood. As a parent, you are responsible to not just get your kids to eat healthy when they are young but you are teaching them healthy eating habits for life. Teach them the tools they needs to be healthy for life and to raise their own healthy eaters.