Sound nutrition plays a decisive role in every child’s physical and mental development. Kids can love healthy foods as much as they love candy or ice cream. It all depends on how they are introduced to healthy eating habits. Food&Health
So, how can we help children love healthy foods?
Create a Positive Sphere of Influence
It can be so challenging to lead by example, especially when busy trying to work and care for your family, but that truly is the way children learn best.
Registered Dietician, Timi Gustafson, says…
Kids learn mostly by example. They model their own behavior after their parents and their older siblings. If your kids have bad eating habits, ask yourself how that happened in the first place. If you eat a poor diet yourself, neglect your health and physical fitness or smoke and drink in front of them, you shouldn’t be surprised when your children go down the same road. So be a good role model and set the stage for healthy eating at home and when you eat out as a family. Your actions speak louder than your words.
Friends and community can have an impact too, but family first.
Implement Variety and Moderation
Healthy eating should always be a pleasurable experience for everyone, especially your kids. If they feel deprived, they will not enjoy their food no matter how beneficial it may be to their health. Variety makes meals interesting and helps ensure a balanced diet. There are hardly any “forbidden” foods, however, moderation is key. Fresh fruits and vegetables can and should be served in abundance and with regularity. Their nutritional benefits cannot be over-estimated. Encourage your kids to make consciously healthier food choices by explaining how the body uses food to stay healthy and strong. Kids Love Healthy Foods
Get Kids Involved Shopping and Choosing
One way to help them learn is to make a point to take them grocery shopping with you. Of course it’s probably easier to go alone when there’s someone at home to watch them or they’re at school, but it’s important for them to see foods in their raw states so they can explore and ask questions.
Take them when you’re not in a hurry and spend a lot of time in the aisles that contain unprocessed foods — the produce, meat, and fish departments, for example. If your child appears to be interested in a certain type of fruit or vegetable, encourage him or her to explore that item; don’t just assume that your child won’t like it. Take it home and let him try it so he can make his own decisions. ~GAIAMLife
Plan Ahead to Make it Easier
For busy parents (what parents aren’t busy?), part of the difficulty in getting children to eat well is simply lack of time. Passing them some crisps to eat on the way home from school or sticking a ready-meal in the oven often seems like the easier option. However, with a little planning and preparation it doesn’t have to be this way. I always find it beneficial to sit down on Sunday and look over the week ahead. I assess when we are going to be out? How many packed lunches do I need? How many late nights at work will there be? Etc. etc. Then I have a better idea of what we need to get us through the week. I try to do a big shop on Sunday when I have the most spare time and then prep as much as I can in advance. This usually involves washing and chopping veggies and greens, cooking a portion of quinoa to use throughout the week, making a soup to freeze, making a large batch of low-sugar granola or overnight porridge, or whipping up some savoury muffins to keep in the freezer. Whatever you can get done ahead of time on your prep day speeds things up during the week and is often a lifesaver when the clock strikes dinner time and you’re tired and uninspired. ~DeliciouslyElla
Venture Beyond The Kid’s Menu When Eating Out
Who says kids only want to eat hot dogs, pizza, burgers, and macaroni and cheese? When eating out, let your kids try new foods and they might surprise you with their willingness to experiment. You can start by letting them try a little of whatever you ordered or ordering an appetizer for them to try. ~KidsHealth
Encourage Children to Slow Down When They Eat
A child can detect hunger and fullness better when they eat slowly. Before offering a second helping or serving, ask your child to wait at least 15 minutes to see if they are truly still hungry. This will give the brain time to register fullness. Also, that second helping should be much smaller than the first. ~WebMD
Slowing down can help children enjoy the textures and flavors of healthy foods more and leave them feeling more satisfied.
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