Written by Mia Morales
Nutrition is important for everyone, but it can be especially difficult to convince children to adopt healthier eating habits. As the meal provider, it will be up to you to adopt new tactics for getting everyone in your family to eat more wholesome foods and to enjoy their healthier options. These suggestions can help you get your children on board with a new diet that will promote better health.
Promote Healthy Eating Patterns
When your children eat is as important as what they eat, so it will be up to you to create a consistent schedule for meals and snacks. As time goes on, their bodies will grow accustomed to a routine and you can plan meals reliably around their hunger. This will help everyone in the family stick to a constant pattern for meals, so you won’t have to feed younger children at a different time. When everyone is eating at the same time, it will be easier to ensure they’re eating healthy.
Stock the Cupboards with Healthy Choices
If you’re just starting to practice better nutrition, it might be a good idea to let the junk food run out ahead of time. This way you can ensure everything on your grocery list is a healthy food that provides nutritional benefits, so unscheduled snacking won’t be a junk food binge. Sometimes shopping for healthy food can be difficult. However, there are tons of different ways to plan and shop for healthy options that even your kids will love.
Don’t “Push” Good Nutrition
Many people do this by refusing to let their children snack, or by forcing their children to eat healthy foods. In either case, the results may be disastrous. By simply providing healthy meal options, you’re doing your job. Let your children choose for themselves what they will eat. As long as you’re not bringing unhealthy options into the home, you’re doing your part. Attempting to force your child to eat vegetables, for instance, will only build up friction and cause the child to resist your efforts.
Be Delicate in Introducing New Foods
Getting your children to adopt healthier diets requires introducing new foods, just as much as it involves eliminating unhealthy choices. While learning to go without favorite sugary or high fat foods is certainly an adjustment, the situation can be worsened by throwing too many new foods into the mix at once. Just try getting your children acclimated to one or two new things at a time. If they don’t like it at first, find inventive and fun ways of helping them to keep trying it. Maybe make a game out of it, help them understand that eating those greens will help them be strong like Superman, or you can just eat the food with them and exaggerate how much you love it.
Let Your Children Participate
While you have the final decision in planning meals for your family, it can be beneficial to let your children help with the grocery shopping. As you shop, you can teach your children how to read nutrition labels and which foods are okay to eat. If you own or rent a home with a yard, you can even let your children create a fruit and vegetable garden. Growing their own foods will help them appreciate the food that much more.
Allow Small Portions of Sugar
First, it’s important to be aware that sugar is added to almost every manufactured food from breads to soups. Being wary of that fact can help you significantly reduce the amount of added sugar you bring into the home. While you do want to lower sugar intake, prohibiting all sweets can end up backfiring. If the child believes he’ll never be permitted to have cake, ice cream, or candy again, he’ll develop cravings for those foods. Eventually, he’ll look for ways to eat them behind your back. It may be better to allow one cheat day per week, where the family indulges in a sweet dessert.
Developing better eating habits won’t be easy, but, as a family, you can rely on one another. As you see each other adapting to a new, healthier lifestyle, this will promote better habits in everyone. This may be difficult at first, but, over time, eating healthy will just become a second-nature habit to everyone. The trick is to get started and get past those first few weeks.