There's no time and my children won't listen: How do I get my kids to eat healthy?
Your 10-Step guide to happy and healthy children
We all want what’s best for our kids, but sometimes, something’s got to give. All too often, we “give” too much when it comes to the food we eat and we let our children eat. Let’s work on that. Let’s prioritize the nutrition and healthy eating habits of our children.
Here is your 10-step guide to better food and better nutrition in your home.
Step 1: Keep healthy food in the house and unhealthy food out. It's easier to make good choices when there are only healthy options to choose from. By making smart decisions at the grocery store and stocking your fridge and cupboards with healthy food you have taken the first giant leap to having a healthy household.
Step 2. Eat frequently. Kids are growing and often quite active. They need food every 3 to 4 hours. By having healthy snacks around and encouraging them to eat more frequently, this will improve their energy, moods and reduce sugar cravings.
Step 3: Encourage involvement - cook! One of the biggest reasons kids don’t want certain foods is because they don’t have experience with them. Research shows that kids are more likely to eat something when they get involved in the cooking process. This is a great opportunity to teach your kids about why fruits and vegetables are important. And it just might get them excited about preparing their own food, too.
Step 4: Introduce new foods slowly. Trying to get your kids to eat too many new things can be off-putting. Start small and stay consistent. Lead by example. Be patient, make it fun, and use fun stories like, “Popeye eats spinach, look how strong he is!” Young kids love to learn through anecdotes.
Step 5: No luck? Put some butter on it. If your kids are resisting their vegetables, throw a little butter on it. This certainly won’t make a big difference in the long run and it makes for a more enjoyable taste in the short-term.
Step 6: Stay calm, carry on. It can be difficult to not overreact when kids are making poor eating choices (chips, candy, fast food, etc). Your job is to provide healthy options; their job is to choose them. If they don’t want their veggies, don’t get upset. By reacting less to their poor food choices, kids will realize over time that you mean what you say and you won’t give in.
Step 7: Lead by example. Your food choices matter. Keep less junk in the house, and rather than talking about the foods you “should or shouldn’t” eat, simply lead by example. Your language is powerful and your behaviors have an impact. Kids pick up on and copy their parents' habits. By setting a good example, your kids will naturally want to follow suit.
Step 8: Say yes to treats. Treats are a popular part of our culture. Kids shouldn't have treats all the time, but they hold a lot of importance. By treating your kids to an occasional ice cream cone or candy at the movies, you give them something to look forward to. They will appreciate it more when it’s on occasion and when it’s the exception to the rule.
Step 9: Have fun! The more fun you can have with your kids, the happier everyone will be. From choosing fun recipes to cooking with them in the kitchen to having fun family outings for ice cream cones, keeping things light and enjoyable will take the pressure off of everyone. Relax and know that if you’re making good choices, your kids are likely to, too.
Step 10: Stay positive. Life is busy and you’re doing the best you can. Remember that the choices your kids make don’t have to be perfect. One candy bar won’t ruin them. It’s the small daily choices and habits built over time in your home that will have a positive, lifelong impact.