Children are notorious for being picky eaters. While you can never change your child’s food preferences completely, there are things that you can do today to help to support better eating habits for your family. Here are five strategies for you to encourage your children to eat healthier food.
The cornerstone of a nutritious eating plan starts with a healthy breakfast each day. Studies have shown that children who consume a well-balanced breakfast to begin the day perform better in school and demonstrate more stable moods and energy levels.
Making a solid breakfast does not have to be a chore. If you are short for time in the morning, consider making a big batch of hard-boiled eggs to keep in the fridge. Pair this with a banana and a healthy carb and your child will have a filling breakfast to get their day off on the right foot. Smoothies made with low-fat yogurt, protein powder, and frozen fruit also make a good choice. Or consider making a batch of whole-grain muffins to freeze and pull out as needed.
Kids are more likely to get behind a healthy eating plan if they have a hand in the preparation. By making them take ownership of the grocery shopping and food prep, they will feel more empowered to make better food choices. You can teach kids about the basic tenets of healthy eating by teaching them how to read food labels.
Kids at nearly any age can participate in some way in the food prep. Even if they are too young to handle a knife or use the stove, kids can be asked to set the table and measure ingredients. By giving your kids the chance to be actively involved in meal planning and preparation, they will feel a part of the process.
Savvy parents understand the importance of being a good role model for their children when it comes to healthy eating. Children have a strong tendency to imitate the adults in their lives, particularly their parents.
Kids will be more likely to want to step outside of their comfort zone if they see their parents doing the same. Your child is paying attention to what you eat, making it important that you choose a wide variety of foods. Good choices to model eating include green smoothies, wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, nuts and seeds, and unique fruits. Get your child involved in picking out new foods to try online and they will feel the anticipation of it arriving so that they can try it out.
Your kids will naturally develop better eating habits if they associate dinner time with more than just-food. Research has shown that kids who sit down for a daily meal with their families are more confident and well-adjusted. Mealtime is more than just food nourishment. A dedicated time to sit around the table brings families together.
Regular family meals deliver comfort to children. This time also gives you the opportunity to connect, help your children to develop social skills, and model good eating habits. By making family mealtime a positive experience that kids look forward to each day, they will be more likely to consume healthier foods.
One of the biggest challenges for parents wanting to encourage healthier eating habits in their children is getting them to eat their vegetables. Letting kids pick out their own produce will empower them to eat what they choose. It also helps to keep fresh vegetables washed and cut and ready to eat in the fridge. Kids will be more likely to grab a handful of cherry tomatoes or sliced cucumber slices if they are ready to go as is.
If all else fails, you can try incorporating veggies into your regular foods. Good ideas include greens in your smoothies, shredded zucchini in baked goods, or adding frozen vegetables to soups and casseroles.
There is no substitute for a healthy diet. By implementing these strategies, you will know that you are doing everything that you can to encourage good eating habits for your children.
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