Four Tips for Transforming Kids into Healthy Eaters
Let’s face it; most humans, even the little ones, love sweet and savory foods. It is our job as parents to teach children the benefits of eating nutritious foods from a young age and before their sweet minds are shown the “dark side” from their friends at school. Yes, brainwash those little sweeties into becoming healthy eaters when you have the chance – the younger, the better.
I still recall my then toddler daughter sitting down to watch her favorite cartoon while eating a bowl of raw baby spinach with lemon juice as I prepared dinner. Instead of letting her have a snack, I made her dinnertime veggies (raw is better whenever possible) her snack, and she was none the wiser. Years later, she still prefers fresh salad to cooked veggies and usually eats it without dressing. That’s a win-win!
As with anything in life, moderation is key, or you may have an uprising on your hands when they realize how you’ve been holding out on them. That means there should be a place for sweet and savory in their lives too. However, when proper habits are introduced early, snacks and dessert can equate to superfoods that nourish their bodies and minds.
Here are four tips to teaching young kids to eat nourishing foods for life.
Four Tips for Teaching Children to Become Healthy Eaters
- Give Them Options
As toddlers grow and develop their personality, they begin to feel the need to have some say in the decisions that impact them. This includes the food they eat. Instead of plopping down any old snack, give them a choice of two healthy options. You are not only giving them some control over what they eat – you are giving them two choices that will make you both feel good.
- Try, Try Again
We all have foods we like and don’t like. When kids are young, their palate is still developing. Just because they didn’t like fish the first time you gave it to them doesn’t mean they won’t like it the fifth time it is introduced. The adage, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again,” was practically made for parents of young children. Also, consider preparing the food a different way. Some kids prefer raw veggies to cooked, and vice versa. Don’t give up on exposing them to a superfood because they rejected it in the past. Tastes change, I promise!
- Practice What You Preach
This goes without saying. Your toddler is watching everything that you do. They are learning how to react to the world around them from your reactions. This includes eating. Kids want to eat what they see their parents eating. Let them see you eating well. It is super easy to reach for the bag of chips and salsa when hunger strikes. Instead, wash and cut up some fruit and veggies to keep in a container in the fridge. Since the work is already done, you may find it more appealing to choose the healthier snack over the chips. Just be sure to share with the kids.
- Choose Foods that Build Brains
Busy people most often prefer easy to prepare meals. That doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on nourishing options. Wash and cut fruit and veggies and keep them in the fridge for snacking. Whenever you leave the house, grab a small lunch tote, add an ice pack and a container or two of your precut veggies and fruit, a cheese stick and a yogurt squeeze and you are ready for even the most hungry kiddo. Avoid giving kids fruit juice and opt for milk or water instead.
By helping your child discover the many incredible unprocessed options for snacks and meals, you help train them to eat healthy for life. There is always a place for sweet and savory snacking, but limit their daily allowance of such foods, or better yet, save it for special occasions. Have additional questions or concerns on how to transform your kids into healthy eaters? Schedule an appointment with our pediatric providers today.