How to Encourage Children to Eat More Healthy
Have you noticed that when you go to a restaurant for a meal, the kid’s menu tends to typically include something like chicken nuggets, pizza, meatballs, potato mash, french fries, or hot dogs? Or take kid’s food at birthday parties for example where chips, cake and tons of candy seem to be the standard? Yes, no healthy foods!
The thing is that the actual development of taste happens during childhood. So it goes without saying, if children are constantly being exposed to unhealthy foods they won’t enjoy the idea of a green smoothie. However, if you start by introducing healthy foods at an early age the children will develop more healthy eating habits.
So, what are some concrete things you can do in order to make children eat healthier?
Make it fun!
Making healthy food and healthy snacks for kids fun and associated with joy is important in order to get them hooked on the idea, especially if you are making a shift from more unhealthy foods. There’s no need to make a big announcement saying “kids, today we are officially banning all candy bars, ice cream and sodas and instead we are now going to eat broccoli, salad, and drink water”. That sales pitch might not make a home run.
Instead, slowly introduce healthier versions by introducing them as this new exciting recipe! Another great idea can be to give foods and meals a name like Unicorn Pasta, Miss Magical Green, Fairy Cake, or Princess Smoothie.
Walk the talk
You have to lead by example. Yes, you might have to give up your stash of M&M candy bars, caramelized kettle corn, and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream to make this work. If you create an environment at home where healthy food is the standard, it won’t seem as something out of the ordinary.
Did someone say sweet potato brownies?
There are also some of the common foods served to children that can be turned into healthier versions. How about making a sweet potato brownie instead of one packed with processed sugar, butter and white flour? Or what if I told you that you can very easily make your own ketchup and skip the store bought, sugary, one? Or instead of the ready-made chocolate pudding, make a much healthier version at home using avocados.
Another way to make the meals liked and appreciated is to prepare them together, in a happy and relaxed environment (healthy eating should never be associated with stress or negativity).
In her article, 5 Great Reasons to Cook with Your Kids, Namali Fernando highlights the importance of, but also why you should be cooking meals together with your kids. For one thing, it’s a way to introduce new flavors in a less intimidating way; the kids can smell, touch and try out small pieces of the food while cooking. Another reason for cooking together is that it demonstrates the importance of choosing healthy ingredients over processed, convenience foods. With that said, it encourages your children to buy into a wellness culture.
So, my message to you is this: healthy food is not a “grown-up food”, but most definitely something that children can, and should, enjoy. It’s all about the environment you create around it; make it fun, prepare meals together, and – most importantly – lead the way.
For similar topics take a look our article about A healthy and balanced diet for a healthy and happy pregnancy
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