Do you struggle to convince your kids to eat healthy foods? It all starts at home with the right examples and choices for the whole household. Here are a few things to consider and how to get on the right track!
SINGLE INGREDIENT WHOLE FOODS
If your kids are hungry, they will eat. They will also eat whatever is readily available. The same goes for adults. Therefore, having healthy choices available is essential to making the proper choices, not just choices out of convenience.
Keep single ingredient whole foods available at all times to avoid using ‘nutrient-void’ foods such as granola bars
- Handheld veggie sticks
- Raw nuts and dried fruit
- Individual sized greek yogurt (preferably plain and add fun toppings such as nuts, seeds, dried fruit, honey or maple syrup, dark chocolate chips)
- Cheese sticks or cut up cheese squares
- Leftovers like cooked chicken chopped up for easy snacking/meals
FUEL – EAT FOR A PURPOSE
Sometimes just explaining to kids the difference between what’s healthy and what isn’t and why we should choose to eat healthy foods can encourage them to make better choices. You can use sports, brain power for school, riding a bike, jumping on a trampoline, ANYTHING you can think of that your child is into!
Point out examples of how their stomach feels after eating junk all day versus a day of great choices and how much energy they had!
If kids realize that they will improve in their sports and activities if they choose the right fuel, they will likely consider it when they have a choice to make food-wise.
CHANGE THEIR PALATES
The food industry has nailed it when it comes to making foods ‘addictive’ and tasty. Because of this, we need to change our kids’ palates. It takes some time to get children and adults to get used to the taste of real whole foods if they have only been eating manufactured foods.
Be patient. Small changes to start will make things easier on you and your kids.
- Swap out one processed food at a time
- Try not to go down the middle aisles in the grocery store unless you need cooking oil or something else that is needed to cook real, whole foods
PICK YOUR BATTLES
Occasionally, your kids will want a treat or a snack that is processed or sugar-filled. Keep those treats as something they can have at a birthday party or a special occasion. You might be surprised that they might think it is too sweet or they might only eat a little bit of it once their palates have changed.
If your kids eat home-cooked healthy meals more often than not, when you do have to use a convenience food, you will feel more confident that it is only a ‘once in a while’ option rather than an everyday option.
One step at a time; be a good example for your kids and you might be surprised at how much they watch and listen and how they will want to emulate their biggest role models – YOU.