Have you ever wondered why some kids love veggies, while others refuse to eat anything that isn’t a hot dog? Not sure where to start in getting your kids on the good-eating bandwagon? The solution is simpler than you may think. Here are 5 easy ways to raise healthy eaters.
5 Easy Ways to Raise Healthy Eaters
When introducing foods, start with vegetables
If your baby’s first tastes are sweet, she will develop a palate that craves that taste. Start with some of the not-as-sweet veggies (like green beans) so that your little one learns to like veggies first. Once they’ve developed those tastes, you can begin to incorporate a wider variety of fruits and veggies. I personally did this with both my kids and it has made such a huge difference in their lives. My daughter LOVES salads. While my son like foods like spaghetti and hot dogs, he will eat his veggies without any problem.
I make sure they both choose the veggies they like to eat. Their #1 go-to is string beans, probably because I started them both on baby food green beans. They like all kinds of veggies. In fact, there’s not really any veggies they don’t like. I don’t eat things like Brussels Sprouts myself, so perhaps they wouldn’t like those if they tried them.
When you are at the store and they are choosing the vegetables, make a big deal out of how tasty veggies are. Since I like veggies myself, it’s not a lie. I’m not a fruit person. If I want something sweet in taste, it better count and be ice cream. 🙂
Some veggies I don’t let them have purposely. Artichokes are my favorite vegetable, but they are a stinkin’ $3 per artichoke. I don’t buy them for my kids except for special occasions. Getting them to look at a vegetable as a “special occasion” really sends a good message to them and it’s a trick that works!
Limit the amount of sweet beverages your child drinks
If you are able, try to stick to milk and water. I rarely give my kids anything except for water and they drink milk in their cereal. Cereal in our home can be anything they want because I don’t give them a ton of sweets or sugar; that IS their sugar.
I’m very particular about milk and only give them the RBST free and no growth hormones milk. When they were drinking the regular milk at school, I noticed their hormones were completely off, especially my daughters’. At school, she brings her own watered-down juice, so that she’s not missing out, but not getting that junk in her system either. That is her treat.
When you do give your kids juice, water it down so that it isn’t as sweet. I do 1/2 water, 1/2 juice personally. This way your child is getting the water that she needs without the added sugar. How I look at it is that basically the juice is just used as a flavoring for the water.
At dessert time, give your child fruit
If your little one views grapes, raisins, and berries as treats, they are less likely to ask for cookies and candy as rewards for eating their meals. Try to reserve pastries and other desserts for special occasions.
On a regular basis, my kids don’t eat sugary sweets, but I do have a bag of candy that I use for good behavior. So, they know if they are wanting candy, they have to earn it. They will usually ask me how they can earn a piece of candy when they are wanting it. I will tell them something and they do it and then they get the candy. It’s pretty simple. They don’t usually ask, but I don’t withhold sugar from them either. I feel that I have a good balance and that’s what we should strive for as parents. Not withholding, but not overdoing it either. Everything in moderation.
Make your child part of the meal planning process
Once your kids are old enough to be able to talk about likes and dislikes, plan meals with them. Ask what they would like to have for dinner. Have them decide a couple meals a week. Conversations like this open the door to basic nutrition like, “we don’t eat cake for dinner because that’s a special once-in-awhile treat.” It also helps your child to be excited about what is coming up for meal time.
Usually when we are making a grocery list, I’ll have my daughter (the child who is most interested in cooking) decide two meals to have. They can be a family favorite that she likes or something completely different that we make for the first time. Having her help me plan the meals, involves her more in all aspects of the cooking process. I have noticed that since doing this, she is very, very wise about her decisions with food and makes great choices. I trust her completely in this area and she is very health conscience because I’ve always made a huge deal out of it every chance I get.
If there’s a health episode on TV, I’ll have them watch it. If there’s something going on online or at a particular store, I’ll have them participate. Constantly filling their minds with the right behaviors and attitudes.
Allow your child to help prepare meals
As your little one gets bigger, give them small tasks in preparing meals. Talk with them about what a big help they are being and how grown-up they are for helping to make dinner. At dinner time, your kids are much more likely to eat food that they have helped to prepare, than to complain of not liking it.
One other thing I would mention is that I completely allow my kids to pick what they eat most of the time (they are 9 and 7 years old). Since they are involved in the dinner selection process, cereal is for breakfast (they pick the cereal kinds at the store) and lunch is up to them when we make our list, it works out great.
We make a list of ALL the things they will need for a week or two and write it down. If they want something they cannot have, it gets veto’d on the list. The point is that it doesn’t make it in the basket at the store, it doesn’t make it in our house. When they are hungry, they can pick what they want to eat from the food available in our home.
There’s no fighting at the store. My rule is that if it’s not on the list, we don’t get it. One week, they did go without milk in their cereal because it didn’t make it on the list and I completely forgot to grab it. After that, they take the list more seriously and we shop by that!
It really makes things SO much easier all the way around.
If you find that you or your kids are craving sweets like crazy, try using Peppermint essential oil. Just one drop a day on the bottom of the feet for 30 days (1/2 drop for children) and you will stop craving sweets. If used long term, you will stop even having a desire for them or caring if you eat sweets. This has been such a great trick for me that’s really helped in my own eating habits. Just be sure that the brand of essential oil you get is certified pure and is able to be used on kids. If it’s not, then it’s not a pure oil and it’s harmful and toxic. You don’t want that!
What are some of your tried-and-true easy ways to raise healthy eaters?