*This is a guest post
Sometimes it takes more than a little helping hand to encourage your child to eat more healthily or eat something that isn’t covered in syrup or shaped like a famous cartoon character’s face. While that may be acceptable for treats and special occasions it’s still important to instill an appreciation for healthy eating while your kids are still young, to ensure they grow up knowing the food that is good for them shouldn’t be seen as strange or disgusting. The problem is finding how to work up to the point where they won’t turn up their noses when they see a plate full of broccoli.
Getting young minds to accept the idea of eating food that isn’t drenched in sugar can take a bit of work and a touch of sneakiness on your part, but the long-term love of veggies and other healthy foodstuffs is worth the mild deception! Here are a few handy tips to help you get started on your mission to encourage your child to eat more healthily.
Know What Foods to Avoid
Knowing how to eat healthy starts with knowing what to keep in limited supply. Nutrient-rich foods are a much smarter choice than foods chock full of added sugar, which may be more susceptible to being stuffed with calories that offer little to nothing for growing bodies. If your child is only going to eat a few modest portions of food each day, maximizing the nutritional impact of those small servings becomes paramount.
Sneak Vegetables into Other Foods
A classic standby of creative parenting involves finding out how to work healthy foods into traditional classics loved by youngsters, which often takes time and experimentation to get the most mileage out of your culinary tricks. If you have a child who is absolutely opposed to greens in any capacity, working them into a smoothie is one of the quickest and easiest ways to work towards helping them appreciate veggie flavors. They’re also customization friendly and simple to make with tons of recipes available to fit any palette.
Making smoothies with an old blender can lead to jammed blades and a frustrated toddler, however, so consider investing in a quality smoothie maker designed to cut fruit and vegetables down to size with ease. Check out more information on smoothie makers and learn what to look for before buying one.
Don’t Make Good Eating Boring
Children are prone to mimic what the adults are doing. If you’re not a fan of healthy foods, you’re best off putting on a brave face when staring down yet another fork’s worth of Brussels sprouts.
Better yet, make the act of eating things that are good for you part of a wider experience in learning about the foods your child eats. They’re far more likely to show interest in healthy eating if they help raise the foods they find on their plate, for instance. Gardening with your kids offers a chance to teach them about life skills, self-sustaining living, eating properly and acts as a fun activity you can bond over for years to come.
Monitor Your Children’s Media
It is intensely tempting to turn on the television and keep young ones occupied with cartoons while you take care of daily chores, but the advertisements that run during those shows can hurt your child’s eating habits in a variety of ways.
Children see as many as 10 to 13 advertisements for food products during a day’s worth of television and more than 90% of those commercials include foods that have a high concentration of ingredients children are recommended to limit.
The solution, as always, is to keep an eye on what your kids watch and to make sure their exposure to advertisement temptation is kept as low as possible.
Get Your Kids Involved Early
Nothing sets the stage for a lifetime of microwave dinners like keeping your kids out of the kitchen. Yes, cooking with your kids will be messy. Chances are there are going to be spills, cuts and burned meals every now and again, but that’s simply a part of the learning process. No chef is born inherently perfect and it takes a few lackluster meals to work up towards something tasty.
Try introducing your children to cooking and baking while they’re still young and aim for short, simple recipes that require a minimum amount of actual cooking. Popular favorites like homemade ice pops and simple salads give them something fun to do while you prepare more work-intensive parts of the meal and is yet another chance for you to spend time with your children when you would otherwise be distracted, which is always a win.
Chances are you aren’t going to make a child into a healthy eating machine overnight. Like any change, if you want to encourage your child to eat more healthily it requires some work and a struggle, but the end results include children who are happier and healthier for having made better eating choices throughout their lives. If the health of your children isn’t worth the amount of work it takes, what in life actually is?
Are you trying to encourage your child to eat more healthily? What do you think of the tips above? Or perhaps you have some of your own to share. Do leave a comment and let us know.
Author Bio: Amanda Wilks of The Kitchen Advisor is a passionate writer and cooking enthusiast. She believes that a healthy lifestyle is based on healthy eating before anything else. Through her writings, Amanda hopes to inspire others to make smart choices regarding their own diet. Learn more about Amanda on Twitter