You Can Teach Your Child To Love Healthy Food With These Five Simple Tips
As a first time mom, a lot of what I learn is from experiences with my toddler, rather than something I picked up in a baby book. I have figured out five strategies I want to share with you on how to teach your child to love healthy food. Today, I sat in the living room and watched my little one go to the refrigerator saying “Mama, mama, the duuu-nats! Before I could figure out what he was trying to tell me, he was back in the living carrying a chocolate doughnut in his hand. I wondered for a second what I should do next.
Take the doughnut away from him, or just let him have the sugar chocolate filled doughnut, 30 minutes before going to bed? I let him have it. Today was a very special day for us, we reached another milestone and I was so proud of him. Besides, a little sugar high never hurt anyone right?
When it comes to encouraging kids to make healthy choices, it’s not an easy task. So what’s a parent to do? Don’t buy doughnuts, cookies and chips. If they don’t see it, they can’t eat it, right?
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” ~Jim RohnClick To Tweet
My little one knows what he wants to eat and when he wants to eat it. There are times I have made him dinner twice, only to put his food on the table and get “Nein” (No) as a response. His Dad decides he’s got this, makes him something else, again “Nein.” We keep making all these different meals because we believe that if we don’t give him what he likes, then he won’t eat.
Thinking back to my childhood, if I got hungry enough, I would eat whatever it was. So I am pretty sure little man will too. You have never heard of a child starving to death because his mother refused to feed him junk food, have you?
So how do you go about teaching children to choose and eat healthy food? What can you do to help steer them in the right direction? It’s a process that takes time and creativity. There are plenty of healthy foods that your kids can learn to enjoy. It’s a matter of making gradual changes. Their taste buds will adapt to the changes and could leave your child with a well- developed or even sophisticated palate.Making small changes to the normal routine is key. Here’s how.
5 Ways To Teach Your Child To Love Healthy Food
1. Have Healthy Foods Ready And Available
You can teach your child to love healthy food, by stocking your kitchen with fruits, vegetables, yoghurt, and lean protein. You are changing your child’s food choices because you are limiting the availability of junk food and increasing the availability of healthy foods. My little one loves choices. So if all the snacks available are healthy choices, he can still feel as if he is in control of choosing what he eats. It’s a win-win situation. Try having a variety of healthy and easy snacks ready for your kids.
A smoothie with yoghurt and fruit, baked tortilla chips and salsa, sliced apple with peanut butter, string cheese and crackers, yoghurt with granola or saltless pretzels with peanuts. There are so many choices.
2. Put Your Kids In Charge Of Packing Their Own Lunch
When your child is old enough, say 4th grade, put them in charge of making their own lunch. The rule should be, they can pack anything they want as long as they pack food from all of the food groups.
Kids love the idea of “being in charge”. This will help them make better decisions in the future.
3. Involve Your Children When Grocery Shopping
My little one just loves to go grocery shopping. Running up and down through the aisles at the supermarket, and tossing all kinds of stuff into the cart. So, if your little one is like mine, and you want to teach your child to love healthy food, allow them to help you while shopping.
Kids can still have treats, but make an agreement with them. They can choose one treat, plus fruit, yoghurt, bread, cereal and type of lunch meat they want. That’s the deal.
Another fun option when you teach your child to love healthy food is to always have a pad of paper with the grocery list. Allow your kids to write down items they want for their school lunch.
This gives them the responsibility of making healthy food decisions for themselves. Hopefully, they will carry the same choices into adulthood.
“Health is a relationship between you and your body” ~Terri GuillemetsClick To Tweet
4. Make Physical Activity A Part Of Your Family’s Routine
One thing I don’t love is exercising. I love to dance and I think dance workouts are great but this is not something I do on a regular. It is important to be active with your kids. There are many activities you can do indoors and outdoors. Being more active as a family will improve both physical and emotional health. Help your kids to find activities that they enjoy by showing them different possibilities.
5. Have Your Entire Family Take Part In Planning And Preparing Meals
The more your kids can participate in family meals, the better choices they will be willing to make. Healthy eating is a family project and everyone should be involved. Try to eat together most nights. This is not always possible due to work and sleep schedules. If you cannot manage to do it everyday of the week, pick one day where meal time works for everyone. Plan what to make, purchase the ingredients you need, and sit down to eat together, where the entire family can come together and prepare and eat together.
These five tips should encourage your children, no matter their age, to make healthy food choices.
Use meal and snack times as teachable moments. Don’t get in the habit of forcing your kids to eat foods they don’t like or make them “clean” their plates. Follow these tips to help your child make healthy choices that will last a lifetime. Children learn what they live so if you don’t introduce unhealthy choices, they won’t make them.
What do you do to teach your child to love healthy food? Share with me in the comments section below.