Kids eat what we provide… eventually, right? Taste buds change as we get older, and my kids definitely go through phases of not wanting to eat anything but junk. Sometimes the fight is on. Sometimes I just do not have the energy. Though, both of my solid food eaters enjoy salad and at least a couple of different fruits or veggies. My incredible guest blogger today, Ariela Schwartz, shares her knowledge and take on the topic of kids eating healthy foods. Continue and consume…
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“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.”
Whether or not they’ll admit it — whether or not they’re aware of it — our kids look to us to teach them every basic life skill that they will carry throughout their lives. Hygiene, organizational skills, sleep habits, study habits, interpersonal skills, etiquette, eating habits, and so much more — most of which are not learned consciously, rather internalized through years of being raised in a certain household.
Each parent or set of parents has their own unique order of preference when it comes to life lessons and skills. By making a conscious effort to focus on buying, serving, and eating healthy foods, we can teach our children to make good choices — a lesson that they will carry with them into adulthood.
These tips from Parenting Pod will not advise you to sneak healthy foods into your unsuspecting children. Instead, they will help you to encourage your children to consciously make healthy choices so that in a few years from now they won’t even have to think twice about it.
1. Get them involved
Kids may be more likely to eat the food once they’ve invested in it.
Your kids can get involved in meal planning, grocery shopping, and preparing foods from a very young age. Ask them to come up with a few meal ideas or have them choose from a list.
Let your toddler and young children “help you” at the grocery store by picking out fruits and vegetables and putting them in bags.
Let them help you prepare the meals by having them stand next to you on a chair while you chop up vegetables for a salad. Let them put the veggies in the bowl (after they’ve washed hands, of course).
2. Make healthy snacks readily available
When kids are hungry, they’ll grab whatever is most accessible to quickly fill their tummies. As soon as they walk through the door, put out a plate of healthy snacks in a common area.
Keep bowls of fresh washed berries and other fruits in the fridge at their eye level. Put two tablespoons of their favorite dip at the bottom of a mason jar and fill the jar with vegetable sticks, such as celery, carrots, and cucumbers. Healthy snacks should have quick access and easy reach.
3. Don’t be a short order chef
Do not worry — your children will not starve. You make one dinner, and one dinner only. Make it clear that you aren’t going to be cooking individual meals. Your kids will have to find something they like from the food on the table. If your kid doesn’t want to eat what’s on the table, let her take a yogurt instead.
4. Serve variety
Your job is to provide healthy foods, their job is to eat it. If you serve a protein, a whole grain, and vegetables each night, then your kids will get what they need. Don’t stress if they skip the veggies tonight — serve different ones tomorrow and maybe they’ll take then.
Gain some perspective by thinking about how your child ate over the course of the week or month rather than his daily consumption.
5. Don’t give up
Just because your kid turns her nose up at asparagus this month doesn’t mean that it won’t be her favorite food next month. Experts claim that it can take around 15 times of being exposed to or tasting a food until the taste buds adjust to it. Just keep putting it out and they may eventually come around to like it.
6. Limit unhealthy options
It’s pretty simple, really. If it’s not in the house, they can’t eat it. Load your shopping cart up with only healthy foods and snack options.
Put special treats in hard to reach places and limit sugary snacks to weekends only.
7. Lead by example
Don’t think that you’re winning sneaking that cookie in the dark pantry where no one can see you. Your kids will pick up on your preferences, and the more healthy foods you eat, the more healthy foods you’ll crave.
Choose healthier options for yourself inside the house and out and your kids will follow suit.
Chances are, your kids are even more aware and much smarter than they’re letting on. You can teach them about healthy foods and healthy choices from a very young age, and they’ll catch on quickly. And don’t forget to allow treats once in a while!
Ariela is passionate about women’s health and cooking. She loves combining her interests to experiment in the kitchen and write about healthy eating and living habits, delicious food, and enjoying exercise. Join her over at ParentingPod.com for more!
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