Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Teaching kids to Eat Healthy

Image result for family dinner with kids
It's hard to get kids to eat healthy if you don't start out that way when they are young. Changing habits is difficult, you may know ;) Here are a few ideas. Please share if you have some tips too. My kids use to be really good and lately they are not! Ugh! I had to be overly strict for a while for health reasons and I think that's what happened. It became such a big deal with food.  I don't want food to be so boring or a big deal that they never want to eat healthy. So overly strict really is hard in the long run! Which can be hard when it's for health reasons. So its been good for us to now create more of a balance and hopefully when they are older they will also make better choices too. Here are a few thoughts and ideas. Please share if you have some tips too!

*if you cheerfully let them know that that's what's available for a meal, then they will learn to enjoy it. It doesn't work if you have crackers and cookies and fruit snacks in your pantry and they know that if their cranky enough they can have it as a snack in an hour. Keep only healthier snacks, treats, foods in the house. If once in a while you want a treat, you go out of the house for the treat. Don't bring bad foods in!

*Sometimes having them involved in the process helps, making cute little sandwiches or salads. Having them help you pick things out at the store. Writing down a list of options and they get to choose the options. Trying to have a few options at a meal so that if they don't like one type of vegetable, they can focus on the fruit.

*Toddlers (and probably most kid) need to be exposed to a food 13 times before they accept it. So if they are expected to stay at the table until you dismiss them, and they see you relaxed and happy and enjoying healthy food and pleasant conversation, and often it is just a matter of time before they settle in. I know meals aren't always this way, but if it's a goal that you're working towards then you'll get there. Even if they don't want to eat, have them stay at the table until they are dismissed. It's family time!

*Your job is to provide the healthy food options in a reasonably appealing way, but you don't have to make them eat it. In fact, you shouldn't. Kids will eat minimal amounts at some meals and larger amouints at others. They are better at listening to their bodies than most adults are. They don't just eat to eat, they stop when they are full. If you help them to understand that even if they don't choose to eat that's fine (remove the power struggle) but they are supposed to stay at the table until they are excused. If your child isn't used to it, you may want to start with a minimum of five minutes but work up to 20 minutes over time. They can sit and be part of the conversation and connection. The benefits of family meals are well documented. Once the food is cleaned up, you can decide how you want to handle it but be consistent: either allow them to have their lunch later if they are hungry or specific snacks (nuts, fruit, etc) but usually say no snacks or juice until dinner when their natural hunger will make healthy eating taste better.

*You have to be cheerfully consistent and they will adapt. There may be plenty of meltdowns if you are working on changing your ways. If they are getting so many treats at school and friends houses etc, you can have them give them to you and at the end of the day, they could pick a better "treat" from the treat box.

*Most kids love dipping things So you can make a fondue type sauce, they can dip veggies or things in it to get them use to eating more veggies. Tacos or things that they can put their own fillings in/make themsevles is always good. You can also make things a little more fun once in a while, make Costco type samples...use toothpicks. My kids love that for some reason!

*I write the meals we make for dinner on large popcicles sticks and let my kids take turns choosing the menu for the week. I have a cute Weekly holder that they can put the sticks in for each day.

*Grow a garden!! Having your children help in the process will help them learn to love healthy foods!!

A few other good points & benenfits to family meal time HERE

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