Getting kids to eat healthier is a common issue for many parents. Arguing with your kids to get them to eat healthier likely results in leaving you stressed, them angry and even less likely to eat what is in front of them.
These 5 easy ways to get your kids to eat healthier offers simple tips that every parent can use to get kids to actually look forward to eating a well-balanced diet.
1. Stop fighting and bribing
Fighting with your children to eat their carrots and broccoli does not work and neither does bribing them. Jennifer Orlet Fisher, the Director of the Family Eating Laboratory at Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education Director, told US News “One of the most common negative experiences kids face is simply being pressured into eating something that they find aversive or scary.”
When kids feel pressured into eating something only because mom bribes them with dessert or another temptation potentially backfires on the parent. Stop the battles and bribes so your children learn that eating healthy does not equal a negative experience.
2. Be a role model
Let your kids see you eating healthier and enjoying healthier food choices. That means gathering the whole family to sit down at the dinner table, something not done very often in many households.
When your children see you eating vegetables and fruit, they are more likely to mimic your actions. Kids Health from Nemours stresses “Kids do as you do.” Let your kids see that you do not skip meals, which often leads to unhealthy snacking.
3. Eliminate the clean your plate requirement
Forcing kids to clean their plate is an action that proves unhealthy. “Let’s Move” instructs parents not to force children to clean their plates if they are full.
Also, remember that kids are smaller than adults are and need less food than you to feel full.
4. Keep freshly chopped, portion-sized healthy foods readily available
When you have grab-and-go foods available, those are usually the first thing the kids reach for. Instead of having unhealthy snacks available, slice and dice fresh fruits and veggies and store them in the front of the refrigerator.
To make healthy options even more attractive, combine two or more fresh-cut veggies, fruits or fruit and veggie combinations. Kids like convenience, and by doing it this way, they have healthy snacks easily accessible. They get the convenience they want and you get the satisfaction of knowing your kids are eating a nutritious meal.
5. Involve the kids – it’ll make eating healthier fun!
Like adults, kids like to feel a sense of accomplishment. Involving them in preparing healthy foods helps them look forward to eating their creation. Let the kids decide what goes into the salad tonight. Younger kids can help by arranging healthy foods on the plate or by washing fresh fruits and veggies, with your supervision. Older kids can help you prepare healthy main dishes.
When kids take part in planning and preparing healthy meals, you will likely discover that they eat healthier, getting a good start on eating healthy as an adult.