Lets be honest most kids don’t ask for healthy food, and it can be challenging to convince them that foods without sugar can be tasty too. It’s not impossible though! Here are a few tricks and tips that I have had luck with.
The biggest way children learn is through observation.
So the best way to encourage your children to eat better is to practice what you preach. Children will be more receptive to healthy foods if they see other people enjoying them often. Even if your child refuses to eat their green beans eat yours! It’s good for you and eventually the child will become curious enough to try them. However there are some children who need more active encouragement.
My nephew will try new foods but he often makes up his mind whether he likes it or not before the food enters his mouth and can be a little dramatic about the taste. If you know a child like my nephew, Joey, you should try involving him/her in preparing the food. No matter the age there is also a way to let them help. If you have a younger child, perhaps let them help make pancakes by allowing them to pour already measured ingredients into a mixing bowl and help stir a little. If your child is a little older let them pour the batter into the pan or flip the pancake after it is mostly done. Most children are more willing to eat the food they helped prepare.
Get creative and make food fun!
If your child is a bug enthusiast use a glass and press it into the middle of a piece of whole wheat bread to make a circle, spread peanut butter on top, then add pretzel rods on the sides for legs and raisins on top for eyes. Children will think it is fun to pretend to be eating a bug. Use foods that your children already likes and are willing to eat, add small servings of other foods that are mixed with or taste good with the food they already enjoy. Let them play with their food a little. For a fun healthy snack, have separate bowls of fish crackers, pretzel rods, and a dip of some kind. Let your child fish at the table. Dipping the pretzel rod into cheese dip or cottage cheese then have them try to catch a fish cracker by putting the dip covered pretzel into the bowl of crackers. Children will love this game and also have a healthy snack.
Part of the appeal to junk food or unhealthy snacks is the convenience of simply grabbing a prepackaged treat that’s ready to go. A good way to encourage your entire family to have healthier snacks is to make them as convenient. Take the time to wash all your fruit the day you bring it home. This makes things like berries and grapes ready to eat. If you buy bigger fruit cut it up right away and have it in the fridge in easy to grab containers. This is also very helpful for parents who may be busy during the week and don’t have time to prepare a snack after school every day.
Remember to lead by example
Be creative, and make time and your children will be eating healthy and enjoying it in no time. You might be surprised when they ask you to buy more fruits instead of chips or cookies.
Nickole Siegman is a student at the University of Wisconsin – Stout. She is a regular contributor at ProbioticSmart.com and PSCLife.com – a leading retailer of Primal Defense for Kids and EvoraKids Probiotic Oral Care.