5 Quick Tips On How To Get Kids To Eat Healthy
If you’ve tried getting yourself to eat healthy you know how much of a challenge it can be. You have years of built-up habits and behaviors that you have to work through, not to mention the task of figuring out how much’ and ‘of what’ to eat. Now how to get kids to eat healthy? That’s a whole new game! The good news is that they don’t have years of bad habits built up. The bad news is that you have to get them to eat it, and that my friend, can take some time. Here are a few of our best tips on encouraging your littles to be more adventurous with their foods and their palates.
How To Get Kids To Eat Healthy - The Challenge
I wish it was as simple as plopping food in front of your kiddo and having them love whatever it is. Unfortunately, if they don’t love it, you’re going to know about it. It might end up on the wall, on the floor, or worse, it might end up on you. Uh oh! As much as changes with food may be an adjustment, it can be an equal adjustment for you, too. So if the challenge is how to get your kids to eat healthy, our best advice is not to force the issue. Instead, make the meal fun, engaging, and nutritious. Let’s dig into how to do just that without the stress and worry, shall we?
Start With The Ideal Plate Ratio
The more mindful you can be as a parent when embarking on this adventure the better results you’re going to get. That means trying different dishes, foods, spices, and ways of organizing all of that on a plate. The goal is to have both variety and nutrients in a harmonious balance. Sure, it’s normal to have preferences of foods based on our palates, however, when it comes to vegetables and fruits, this is where it’s important to be adventurous. Much like your own tastebuds, having an appetite for certain foods can take time and this is important to remember as you go through this journey.
Here’s the basic formula for creating the ideal plate to get your kids to eat healthy. Ready? Ok good! Make a plate with half fruit and veggie (more color, the better), one-quarter protein, and one-quarter complex carbohydrates (think starchy carbs). Serve it up with a glass of milk for calcium (two servings of calcium per day is ideal) and you can add a little cheese to the plate as another source, just not too much.
By keeping the ratios in mind when building a ‘plate to plop down’ so to speak, as a parent, you should be able to introduce a variety of foods right with the foods that they’re already familiar with. Don’t make it a big deal and just move on. Sure, there are going to be things they like right away, but others might take some time to warm up to. Again, be patient here. This is where textures, flavors, and presentation come into play. Just keep offering the foods. Familiarity makes foods less intimidating.
Let’s Talk About Snacking
Now that you know how to build a plate of food, let’s talk about snacking. Routines are great for children because it creates less stress. When they have something that they can count on both mentally and physically, you can create a better environment for them to succeed. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are crucial, but what about snacks? We recommend not eating a snack within an hour or so before a meal, similar to with yourself.
That being said, snacks are a great time to bridge the gaps between meals as well as an opportunity to provide more nutrients for your little(s) and not just junk food. This is where the flexibility comes in, especially when you’re caught on the go or in a scheduling pinch. Keep in mind, variety applies here too.
How To Get Kids To Eat Healthy - Sharing is Caring
If we see our parents eat something, we get curious. As children, we love and adore them and look to them for guidance. We trust them. Your littles trust you, too. So if they see you eating something, encourage a nibble or a bite here, especially if it’s something new. This can eliminate some of the ambiguity, fear, and uncertainty that comes along with trying something new and unfamiliar.
Tips On Presentation
Look, you don’t have to be Martha Stewart for children here, we promise. However, as a child, creativity is running rampant. Encourage it and embrace it - even if it takes a few extra minutes out of your day. This time is short, their brains are big. Nourish them, excite them, encourage them, and get creative. Keep some cookie cutters on hand and shape things like pancakes and sandwiches. Organize the plate of vegetables by color and teach them along the way. Make tiny skewers and keep in mind the size of both their fingers and their mouths, as bite-size for you and me is a lot bigger than bite-size for them!
Get Them Involved In The Kitchen
Still, wondering how to get kids to eat healthy? Get them involved in the kitchen. Sure, there are lots of dangerous things in there, but teach them by example. Show them what they’re doing. Get them interested in food, how to prepare it, and how to eat it. This is a lifelong thing that you’re teaching them. Every day I talk to clients who have a poor relationship with food and the kitchen. It can take years of undoing and fostering self-trust in that environment.
Start your kiddos in there at a young age and make it fun. Who’s going to be the best potato peeler? Who can open a can without spilling it? Who can snap the string beans and make the same noise with their mouth at the same time? These moments won’t just go a long way in their health, but they’ll go a long way in their mind. Some of my most favorite memories with my mom are from being side by side with her in gardens and in the kitchen environment. She boosted my confidence, taught me about efficiency, appreciation for food, and so much more. Give those gifts to your littles, they’re priceless.
How To Get Kids To Eat Healthy - In Conclusion
All in all, having kids is TOUGH! But with a little extra effort, creativity, and the simplicity of how to create a great plate of food, you can ease them into a world of nutrient-dense foods without a hassle. If it doesn’t click right away? Don’t give up! Be patient, grab some cookie cutters, and handle it. You got this!
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