When it comes to kids, encouraging healthy eating can be a challenge.
Children often have a love of sweets and a reluctance to try new foods that may have you struggling to ensure they’re eating a balanced diet.
But teaching kids to eat healthy is still possible! With some creativity and a few tips and tricks, you’ll be able to get kids excited about eating those nutritious meals.
To help get your kids eating healthy and enjoying it, try these 6 ideas:
Plan a Healthy Breakfast
Starting the day with a healthy breakfast is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help set your kids up for healthier eating all day.
While grabbing a toaster waffle or a bowl of sugary cereal may be quick and easy, the simple carbs can lead to a sugar crash (and unhealthy snacking) later on.
Instead, prep some healthy and balanced breakfasts that your kids can grab and go.
Overnight oats made with organic oats, almond milk, and fresh fruit is an easy and balanced breakfast that will help your kids feel full longer.
Or, fill some wraps with scrambled eggs and veggies, wrap them individually, and store them in the fridge. Kids can grab a wrap, heat it in the microwave for a minute, and have a healthy breakfast ready to go.
Include Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients that are essential for growing bodies, so including plenty of them in every meal is a must.
If your kids tend to shy away from vegetables, consider sneaking them into some favorite foods instead.
Pureed spinach, for example, can easily be added to pasta sauces and smoothies. And shredded zucchini can be mixed into cakes and muffins.
Ideally, half of every meal should be comprised of vegetables, so take every opportunity to add them to your family’s favorite dishes.
Offer Plenty of Variety
While your kids may insist that they only like chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese, offering them a variety of foods is a must to help them move past that picky-eating stage.
Make sure to start will small amounts of new foods, so that they don’t feel overwhelmed by the idea of having to eat so much of a new food.
And be patient! Often, kids will have to try a new food multiple times before they decide that they like it. Create a rule that kids have to at least try everything on their plate.
While they may start out only having a single bite of a new food, they’ll likely soon start deciding some of those new foods are actually pretty tasty.
Give Your Kids Some Choice
One of the best ways to start teaching kids to eat healthy is by letting them have some control over what they’re going to be eating.
For younger kids, that can mean taking them grocery shopping and letting them pick out the fruits and vegetables that they most enjoy.
Once kids are a little older, they can get even more involved by helping you choose the meals for the week, or even deciding on a new recipe for everyone to try.
And don’t forget about lunches! Instead of packing your child’s lunch, stock the pantry and fridge with healthy lunch options and let them choose what they want to take to school each day.
The more involved your kids become with their food choices, the more likely they are to eat and enjoy the food you serve.
Try Some Healthy Food Swaps
A simple and effective way to ensure your kids are eating healthy is by “healthifying” their favorite foods.
There are all kinds of healthy swaps you can make to different ingredients to help make any recipe healthier, so start with your child’s favorite dish and see what changes you can come up with.
One of the easiest swaps you can make is simply switching out white flour products for whole wheat versions.
From making pizza dough with whole wheat flour to using whole wheat pasta for your child’s favourite spaghetti and meat sauce, you’ll be ensuring your child is getting more whole grains in their diet.
Replacing soda and fruit juice with sparkling water is another easy and effective switch you can make to improve your children’s health.
Keep in mind that fruit juice has about the same amount of sugar per serving as soda does, so resolve to make water the drink of choice in your house.
Bananas can make a great substitute for sugar when baking cookies or muffins. And applesauce is a great replacement for oil in baked goods as well!
Once you start experimenting with healthy food swaps, you’ll be amazed at how easy it can be to make your kids’ favorite meals more nutritious.
Get the Whole Family Cooking
Kids tend to love helping out and learning to do new things. So, sometimes teaching your kids to eat healthy is as easy as letting them get involved in the cooking!
Not only is learning to cook giving your kids a skill that will benefit them for a lifetime, they’ll be far more excited to eat their food when it’s a meal they helped make.
Younger children can help by measuring and mixing ingredients, washing fruits and vegetables, and cutting soft foods.
Older children may want to take a more active hand in food preparation and prepare an entire meal, with you assisting when needed.
The more involved kids become in the kitchen, the more involved they tend to be when the time comes to actually eat that food they prepared.
Helping your child develop healthy eating habits is one of the most important things you can do to help ensure their overall well-being.
And while it can sometimes take some patience and creativity to build those habits, the end result is worth it!
After all, you need to raise healthy children if you want to give your kids the best chance at growing to be healthy and happy adults.