If you are a parent, you already know that sometimes can be really hard to get your kids to eat healthy food. It’s difficult to avoid all those toys that are going along with junk food and numerous commercials about candies and sweets that kids actually love. Creating an environment where your children can make healthy food choices is one of the most significant steps you can take to ensure the health of your kid. In this article, we will give you some expert advice that can help you encourage your children to eat healthy.
By developing a supportive environment, you and your close family can create a positive relationship with healthy foods. Try to lead them by your example.
According to Melinda Sothern, Ph.D., director of the childhood obesity prevention laboratory at Louisiana State University and co-author of Trim Kids, here are some great tips for getting kids to form wise nutritional habits and eat healthy food.
- Don’t Restrict Food
Never restrict food because that can have a negative effect on development and growth, and it may also increase the risk of a kid developing some eating disorder, such as bulimia or anorexia later in life. As an alternative, emphasize various healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, while avoiding junk processed foods.
- Keep Healthy Food at Hand
Children tend to consume whatever is available and they could only eat and drink what you keep in your home. Keep a bowl of fruit such as bananas or apples on the counter, so when you snack, take some fruit. Sothern claims: “Your actions scream louder than anything you’ll ever tell them”.
- Do Not Label Foods as “Bad” or “Good”
Do not label foods as “bad” or “good”, instead, try to associate them with things your kid likes. Ensure they know that the antioxidants in vegetables and fruits will keep their skin clear and their hair shiny. Let your children know that calcium in non-dairy milk and dairy products, or lean protein like that in turkey breast will help them stay strong and healthy for their soccer game. You should encourage your children to eat healthy breakfast so they could stay focused in class.
- Praise Healthy Choices
Always let your kids know how proud you are of them and their healthy food choices. Praise your kids and let them know they made a very smart choice when they opt for whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
- Do Not Nag About Unhealthy Choices
Although you praise healthy choices, children are going to choose some unhealthy food sometimes. However, the best strategy is to ignore that. Opt instead for a healthier version of the food they crave. You can try roasting some potato sticks tossed in a hint of extra virgin olive oil in the oven as an alternative to French fries. You can also dip fresh strawberries into a little dark chocolate (containing at least 75% cocoa) to satisfy a sweet tooth, or offer them a portion of dried fruits as a snack.
- Never Use Food as a Reward
You should never use foods as a reward. That is a very wrong thing that many parents do. When food is used as a prize it could create weight issues and problems around food later in life. Instead, you should give your children non-food rewards. For example, the best kind can involve fun physical activities, such as bike rides, a game of catch, or trips to the park. This is a traditional method that works perfectly fine to encourage your children to eat healthily.
- Sit Down to Family Dinners at Night
Family meals at night are a perfect way to bond as a family and ensure your kids eat healthy dinners. Many studies have proven that children who consume dinners with their families eat healthier foods. Plus, they are less likely to get in trouble as adolescents. If you don’t prefer to eat together as a family, you can try to start with family dinner once a week and then, work up from there.
- Prepare Plates in Your Kitchen
Prepare dishes for meals in your kitchen, not at the table. You may wonder why? Well, this way you can be sure that there are healthy meals on everyone’s plates and this can help kids learn right portion sizes. You can also find this method really helpful for your weight loss efforts as well!
- Give Your Children Some Control
Let your kids have some control over the meals they eat and contribute in the decision-making about what is served. You can begin by asking your kids to take just 3 bites of all the nutrition on their plate, and score them 1 to 10, just like in school. If a healthy meal as a vegetable gets a really high grade, serve that food more often. This is a great way to encourage your children to eat healthily.
- Consult Your Pediatrician
Consult your kid’s pediatrician before putting your kid on a diet, whether that particular diet is to gain weight, lose weight, or is simply a significant change from the meals your kid is actually used to eating. Do not diagnose your kid as being under or overweight on your own – always get a professional advice and pediatrician recommendation.
Many parents claim that the more creative the dish is – the greater the variety of foods the child eat. You can find many creative ideas online to help you decorate your kid’s plate with healthy vegetables or fruits. For example, you can make smiley-face pancake, turn toast into stars and hearts by using cookie cutters, or give food some silly name. You kid will love it!
Adjust your attitude
You have to realize that what your children eat over time is what actually matters and makes life beautiful. Happiness is in the little things. Eating an ice-cream sundae or having popcorns at the movies are some of the life’s great pleasures. Balance is everything. As long as you balance these little pleasures with physical activities and smart food choices, your kids will be fine.
It could be tough for children to navigate their world with numerous food choices. It is not overnight, it is all about gradual changes and it is an uphill battle for every parent. Everything that is outside the home is trying to make children overweight. Therefore, is really important to cook at home so your children can eat healthy food and have a well-balanced diet. Plus, they will be able to avoid obesity.
Encourage your children to eat healthily and teach them how to be smart about nutrition at home, and they’ll learn a lesson about healthy eating to last a lifetime.
Today is the International Children’s Day! Share this article with your family and friends, to help ensure a healthy future for our children!
Encourage Your children to Eat Healthy!