Healthy New Year Series!
Encouraging Healthy Eating
How to get your kids to eat good foods.
Trying to get your kids to consistently eat a healthy variety of foods can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you have kiddos who only want to eat one thing every day for every meal. Mac and cheese, PB&J, hot dogs and grilled cheese are some kiddo favorites. And yes, they are delicious, but they don’t provide the full variety of vitamins and nutrients that children need to grow healthy and strong. Kids need fruits, veggies, protein, calcium, vitamins, iron and carbs each day, just to name a few.
Some people may suggest that you just stick food in front of the child. If they don’t eat it, that’s their own fault. Parents often say, “I’m not a short order cook!” Expecting your child to eat something they dislike is not a realistic solution for regularly getting needed nutrients into your child’s body. This is especially true for toddlers who are trying to figure out what tastes good and new food consistencies, which can be a little funky for some kids. And let’s face it, if someone put a bowl of a food you dislike (brussels sprouts with haggis) in front of you and told you that you had to eat it, that probably wouldn't go over too well. So, why expect the same from your little ones?
There are a couple of different ways you can encourage kids to eat more than their dining staples. For example, hiding healthy foods inside a favorite food is a good way to get more nutrients into your kid’s diet. Muffins with zucchini and carrot is a good one. Putting some peas in that mac and cheese isn’t a bad idea. Putting pumpkin in pancakes. Cauliflower in scrambled eggs. The possibilities are endless! We’ll be sharing some of these sneaky recipes in our next blog.
Also, a little bit of negotiating goes a long way. For example, make a deal with your child that if they eat their broccoli or beans, they can have a slice of watermelon after. The magic of bribery, if done the right way, is that you can get even more good foods into your kids bellies without them knowing that’s what’s happening! Another example is if your kids eat all of their salad, they can have a chocolate muffin for dessert. Guess what?! There are vegetables in that tasty chocolate muffin! They don’t need to know that, but you will. You win and then you win again! Ultimately they really win because they’re eating healthier and feeling great with good, healthy, yummy foods that help them excel in all aspects of their lives.
Good nutrition isn’t just for little kids ! It’s for big kids and teens, too! Older children tend to have more of a free choice of foods they eat, especially with school lunches. Try to encourage them to choose to eat healthy each day. Pick a healthy sandwich or smoothie as opposed to cafeteria pizza and snack cakes.
Getting your kids into sports at an early age can help instill a healthy mindset with food, too, If your child doesn't eat a healthy diet, they can’t perform well in their sport as well as they could with healthy, good-for-you foods!
Bottom line is this…It’s not like anyone ever outgrows a love for mac and cheese, but if you create a world for your kids where mac and cheese is an acceptable menu option, as long as it’s paired with healthier foods for mind and body health, that happy-medium can create balance and good habits for healthy eating. Eat well - Feel well.