Getting kids to make smart food choices can be a challenge. If they had it their way many would choose the four Cs: cookies, candy, cake and chips. Help them evaluate their food choices and make healthy eating a part of their everyday life. Here are 10 tips:
1. Portion control
Digging into the entire box of goldfish crackers (or just about any snack) is a bad idea. Try sectioning the snack into small bags for better portion control.
2. Sneak in the whole grains
A change in diet can be hard for kids to swallow. Try switching from regular to whole-grain pasta in stages. First add 1/4 cup of the healthier noodle and each time gradually add more until eventually they’re eating the entire dish whole-grain style. The key is making the changes over time and not making a big deal about them.
3. Lead by example
When kids see you eating fruits and veggies they’ll follow your lead. Help your child develop healthy eating habits by setting an example. You’ll send a message that good health is important.
4. Make food fun
Find new ways to introduce healthy food in stages. For example, try a small amount of broccoli mixed in with whole-grain mac and cheese.
5. Don’t pressure kids to eat
Present the food, but don’t force kids to eat it. Ask what new foods they’re interested in and offer to make them. And get excited about their willingness to try them!
6. Eat together
When everyone sits down together, there’s less chance of children eating the wrong foods or snacking too much. Everyone develops good eating habits and the quality family time is an added bonus.
Food shouldn’t be a source of angst for your family. Get your kids to eat healthier by being creative and consistent. Small steps and gradual changes can make a big difference.
8. Get kids involved
Involve kids in choosing and preparing meals. Take them to the grocery store to help shop and let them chop veggies or do other tasks at home. Children who are involved in the cooking are more interested in eating what they’ve prepared. The whole family will learn what’s good for their health and be more conscious of what they eat.
9. Plan dinners
Thinking about a weekly schedule may seem overwhelming, so start with two or three days at a time. Good dinners should be balanced with whole-grain bread, rice or pasta; a fruit or vegetable; and a protein like a lean meat.
10. Read up on nutrition
Make a game of reading food labels. Read books about food and explain where it comes from. The whole family will learn what’s good for their health and be more conscious of what they eat.