For many parents, mealtime has become the most stressful time of the day. Kids saying “gross” to your stew or boycotting the salad until you make them nuggets or mac and cheese can really do a number on caring parents who only want what’s best for their little ones. You might be wondering how you can get your kids to have a good diet and a healthy attitude towards food. Every parent needs a few of the following tricks up their sleeve for getting kids to eat healthily. Take notes:
Learn about healthy eating together
First and foremost, kids need to have a healthy attitude towards food if you want them to be healthy in the future. Every food is good food, but you need to talk about the mounts and frequencies. Foods like whole grains, Greek yogurt, fruits and veggies can be eaten every day while waffles can be served occasionally. Even foods with little nutritional value like fries or cake can be enjoyed occasionally and in small amounts—this is healthy eating.
Provide kids with choices
Kids can be very stubborn and eager to fight for their independence, so forcing them to eat something can have exactly the opposite results. Your better strategy is to give kids a choice between two healthy food options, so you can provide them with autonomy yet stay on top of their diet. For instance, you can go between apple slices or veggies with salsa, and your little one will be excited to try something new because it seems like it was their idea.
Introduce new foods slowly
Children are usually suspicious of new things, this might include food as well. So what do you do when your kid is a picky eater? Slowly introduce new foods by mixing healthy options with something you know they already love to eat. If they don’t like it, try pairing it with something different next time or choose a new preparation method. If you just got some exotic dried fruits online and want your kids to try them, simply let them dip the fruit in a sweet dipping sauce they like. Or you can mix your dried fruit with a trail mix or put it in a dessert.
One thing about kids is that they are curious, so make sure to give them the opportunity to learn about cooking techniques and where your foods come from. You can visit your local farm and show the kids how fruits and veggies grow, how they are picked and how they can be prepared. When you come home, choose a recipe and prepare the new foods together. Now that they know what they are eating, the fear and hesitation will deflate. Conversing about how the food gets digested and turned into energy might also be interesting for kids—they love to know how things work.
Make your snacks smart
There’s no life without snacking, but make sure to teach your kids how to properly do it and create good eating habits. Keep portion sizes appropriate and avoid ruining their appetite by making snack times too close to dinner. If your kids are too hungry to wait for dinner, ask them to grab a few pieces of veggies you’re cooking with. Sometimes, other less healthy snacks are allowed as well, but look for serving sizes together with your kids and make sure to respect them.
Kids are stubborn and their tastes and preferences are still forming, so make sure to be patient with new foods to avoid life-long aversion and even eating disorders. If you expose them to new foods in a caring and supportive manner, expect good results or wait for a few weeks and try again.