We all want our kids to be healthy and their diet is a big part of that. But getting kids to eat healthy food can be a bit of an uphill battle. Most kids think that vegetables are the worst thing in the world and they’d much rather be eating junk food. If you give in and just feed them the unhealthy food that they want, their eating habits are not going to get better, they’re only going to get worse. It’s important that you get your kids eating healthy food from a very young age so that they develop good habits as they get older. If they pick up the habit now, they’ll be happy and healthy in the future. If you are having trouble getting your kids interested in healthy food, here are a few things that you can try.
Lead By Example
Children learn by imitating their parents a lot of the time, which is why the most important thing is to lead by example. If your kids see you eating junk food all of the time and skipping out on the salad at dinner time, they’re going to do the same. But if they see you eating well and enjoying your fruits and vegetables, they’ll be more likely to do the same. It’s going to be healthier for you anyway, so you need to cut out the junk food and unhealthy snacks. If you do want to eat unhealthy food (we all do from time to time) then you should try to keep it until after they go to bed.
It’s also important that you cook one meal for everybody, rather than doing separate ones for the kids. If you do separate meals, they will not be following your example and they’re more likely to resist when you try to get them to eat healthily. It’s less work for you to cook one big meal anyway.
Cut Back On Meat
A lot of people are switching to vegetarian or vegan diets or maybe even just cutting back a bit, and you should consider doing the same if you want your kids to be healthy. There are a couple of good reasons for doing this; first off, it’s a great way to live a greener lifestyle on a budget because cutting down on meat reduces your carbon footprint and it’s cheaper to buy more fresh vegetables. Secondly, when you cut back on meat, it forces you to be more adventurous with your cooking. You have to introduce more vegetables to dishes to make up for the meat so your kids are getting more healthy foods with each meal, and it also means that you have to do more inventive things with your vegetables.
When you have meat with every meal, it’s easy to fall into habits and eat the same meals all the time. The vegetables become a side to the main event, rather than the focus of the dish, so it’s easier for your kids to just push them aside. But if you experiment with more meat free dishes, you will show your kids that vegetables can be delicious as well.
Get Them In The Kitchen
When your kids feel more involved with the cooking process, they’ll be more inclined to eat the finished results, so you should get them in the kitchen. If they can see how you prepare healthy meals and help you along the way, they will be invested in the whole process. They helped cook it, so they’re definitely going to want to try it. You’re also teaching them a valuable life skill so when they are older, they will be able to prepare their own healthy food.
Grow Some Vegetables
Growing some of your own vegetables is another great way to get your kids more involved with their food. We’re very detached from our food and we don’t tend to think about where it comes from. But if you can get your kids a bit more involved, they will be more interested in eating healthy foods. You should teach them about gardening and then try to grow some of your own vegetables. When they watch the whole process from seeding all the way up to harvesting, they will be excited to try the vegetables, so it’s a great way to get them to try things that they would normally turn their noses up at. It’s a great way to save yourself a bit of money as well.
Introduce New Foods Slowly
When you are trying to get your kids to try new foods, you need to take it slowly. If you put a plate of completely new food in front of them, it will be a bit daunting and they will be less likely to eat it. But if you add a new vegetable alongside other things that they like, it’s easier to sneak it by them and get them to try it. Begin by giving them a small amount of a new food a few times and see how they respond. If they are eating it without too much trouble, you can start giving them some more and maybe even make that ingredient the main focus of the dish.
It’s never a good idea to tell your child that chocolate is bad for them so they can never have it again. You don’t handle your own diet like that, so why try to do it with your kids? When you completely forbid it, it’s just going to make them want it more, and they will refuse the healthy alternatives that you give them. You’re trying to promote a healthy attitude toward food and having the occasional treat is a big part of that. If you make it clear that unhealthy food is fine as an occasional treat, but you shouldn’t eat it all the time, your kids will grow up with a better attitude towards eating and they will be more open to the healthy foods that you give them as well. Often, it’s good to save unhealthy foods for certain times. For example, if you are going to eat out at a restaurant or if you are on a day trip together.
Even parents with the best intentions make mistakes with their kid’s diet sometimes, and that usually happens because they have the wrong idea about certain foods. Things that seem healthy and are sold as more sensible options are not always that good for you. Fruit juice, for example, is something that most of us think is healthy. But in reality, it has a lot of sugar in it and it isn’t really any better than drinking soda. A lot of foods that are advertised as being fat free make up for the loss in flavor by adding lots of sugar or salt, so they’re not great either. It’s a good idea to educate yourself about food and get into the habit of reading the labels on things so you know exactly what you are eating.
Don’t Push It
It’s tempting to try to force your kids to eat their vegetables but that usually has the opposite effect. The more you push it, the less likely they are to listen to you, so you have to bite your tongue a little bit. If you give them the healthy options and gently encourage them, you can let them find their own way. This is the best way to get them to see the benefits of healthy eating and learn to love healthy food on their own, rather than seeing healthy eating as something that they are forced to do.
Getting your kids to eat healthy food can be a long process, but if you follow these steps, you can help them to build a healthy attitude towards food. One of my favourite sites for healthy eating baby led weaning recipes that can easily be adapted for children is mummytodex .