Teaching children about eating a healthy diet can be difficult. Oftentimes, kids are surprised when they find out that their favorite meal is actually bad for them.
In general, it’s just not as much fun to eat healthy as it is to eat junk food and drink soda. Kids don’t develop the “sweet tooth” or the taste for junk food overnight, so it’s unrealistic to expect them to outgrow these habits.
Why is it Very Important to Interest Kids in Lifelong Healthy Eating Though?
Parents should definitely try hard to interest their child in lifelong healthy eating—even if that means using apps for eating healthy on a diet. A diet filled with junk food and soda can lead to many problems down the road, such as high cholesterol and obesity. Kids will definitely appreciate it when they grow up and realize that their parents thought of them every time they bought a certain fruit or vegetable until they liked it. Besides, healthy food is delicious. It’s about time kids realize that.
Seven Fun Hacks to Interest your Kids in Lifelong Healthy Eating
Even though it’s difficult, there are many ways to make kids interested in healthy eating without having to force them. The following tips might help;
1. Keep the Junk Out of the House
One way to make sure that children are interested in healthy eating is not having any junk food around. This includes soda, chips, candy, and anything else with enormous sugar or sodium. Of course, parents can buy junk on occasion for their children if they eat a balanced diet every day, but it will be easier to get them on board early if there’s no junk in the cupboard at all. This rule can also apply to grandparents who might give “presents” of unhealthy foods when visiting. If parents have junk food around, it will seem normal to eat it, and kids will probably not want healthy food.
2. Make Healthy Food Fun
One way to make junk food less appealing is by making healthy foods fun (and vice versa). The next time parents go grocery shopping, they should try buying some “fun” fruit that children might enjoy eating more than the usual varieties. For example, grapes can be counted out in multiples of five to keep kids entertained during mealtime while simultaneously teaching them how to count. Other berries such as blueberries or raspberries are also good choices because their colors are so bright and vibrant. It’s also important for parents to remember what types of vegetables their child enjoys most because this could help when trying to get them interested in healthy eating.
3. Make Eating Healthy a Creativity Affair
Parents can find ways to make healthy eating fun for their children when they are at the grocery store. One way is by letting their kids pick out a vegetable or fruit that they want when shopping together to get them interested in nutritious food. Kids might also enjoy getting creative and making little faces or patterns on their fruit with peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese. Even adults sometimes enjoy this activity, so it’s definitely something parents should try themselves. Also, another fun idea is making smoothies using various fruits and vegetables; adding orange juice, spinach, strawberries, bananas, and blueberries will give the treat lots of vitamins without sacrificing the taste. Parents should be sure not to use too much of the juice, though, because it’s full of sugar and will counteract all the good they’re doing by adding vegetables to it.
4. Make Meals a Family Affair
Parents should make mealtime a family affair instead of an individual activity, and this includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Parents can sit with their kids at mealtime and talk about how their day went or what they want to do next weekend. Kids might also enjoy socializing at mealtime if parents ask them questions such as; “Is that purple (or green or orange) smoothie delicious?” Kids will feel like they’re part of something special when eating healthy foods with their family, and they might even pick up on some healthy eating habits themselves.
5. Plan the Family Dinner Menus Early in Advance
You don’t want to be in a bad mood when trying to convince your kids to eat healthy food. Try planning the family dinner menus out in advance so that you know what healthy foods you will be cooking. If there’s something specific that your child doesn’t like, you might want to cook it anyway and offer an alternative such as bread or rice with butter instead of French fries. Parents can also try making vegetable smoothies and adding them into main dishes (such as spaghetti sauce) because usually, kids like getting vegetables in sneaky ways anyway.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Explain Nutrition
It’s always important for children to understand why we need certain foods in our bodies because this could make eating good foods feel more natural and less like a chore or punishment. When children become curious about their parents’ types of foods, parents should feel comfortable explaining why they need to eat a healthy diet. If kids understand why they need certain nutrients, they might be more willing to try new foods without being too picky or stubborn. Kids also tend to connect with their parents better when parents explain nutrition in terms that children can easily comprehend.
7. Teach Your Child About Healthy Eating Early on
Many preschools and kindergartens now offer cooking classes for children as young as three years old! These types of activities might help them get a head start on understanding what a healthy lifestyle means and could make healthy eating seem less scary or hard down the road. Parents who want their children to grow up with good eating habits should teach them about cooking and nutrition early in life.
What Parents Should Keep in Mind
Parents should remember that it’s better to be positive than negative when trying to teach their children a new eating habit, so they shouldn’t get mad when kids refuse foods or complain about healthy options. If they do this, children will continue to push back against healthy eating, and parents will have a harder time getting them interested in nutritious food.
A good idea is to ask your child if they would like one bite of something before telling them no, ultimately because most kids want the thing they’re being denied. Parents also need to set a good example by eating healthy themselves, or else how can they expect their children to eat well too? Eating together as a family is a great way to set the best example, and kids will be more willing to try new foods if their parents are enthusiastic about healthy eating.
It’s also important for children to understand what moderation means, and parents should remind them that they don’t need to eat everything in sight or drink every beverage on the table when they’re thirsty or hungry. Parents should make sure not to offer their children too many snacks during any one meal because it’s easy for children to fill up on junk food this way. Making sure your child is only eating too much at one time is good advice for encouraging healthy eating habits.
Moreover, it helps to have a reward system in place for if kids eat healthy foods, but parents should remember that rewards are ultimately up to them. Some examples of positive reinforcement include stickers, playing games, practicing an instrument or sport together, having dinner out at a restaurant, watching TV time after dinner without being told to clean their plate first, etc. Parents should think about what their child likes doing the most and how they can use this as motivation for eating better.
The Bottom Line
While it is necessary to interest your kids in lifelong healthy eating, it’s important not to force your child into eating something just because you want them to try it. The more times children refuse food, the harder it can be for parents to get them interested in healthy eating, which is why adults shouldn’t be too strict on their kids. If parents are positive, patient, and offer healthy food alternatives, then there’s a good chance that your child will eventually warm up to the idea of lifelong healthy eating
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