It can be tricky to find ways to get kids to eat healthy especially if you have picky eaters. With today's convenience foods and easy fast meals, trying to get kids to desire healthy options can have it's challenges. In our home it has been a gradual process.
If I can encourage you or give you any advice it's to take a step at at time, and just start somewhere. One food at a time, one meal at a time. I also like to follow the 80/20 rule when thinking about feeding my family with the best healthy foods I can. We try to eat 80 percent of our foods from home, with the best ingredients and in the best way we can. There are times when avoiding sugary foods, and eating out is impossible, so we try to keep that to the 20 percent portion of our diet. This seems to be do-able for us all.
I have come up with these eight ways to get kids to eat healthy. Healthy eating has become a passion of mine as our family meals had to get an extreme makeover because of my ADHD boys. Converting our family diet has made a huge difference in my boys' ADHD behavior, and our overall health, so I love sharing some of my tips to hopefully help others.
8 Ways To Get Kids To Eat Healthy
1. Let Kids Help with the Shopping
If you want kids to start eating healthy foods, let your kids help you with the shopping. Even if it takes a bit more time in the store, let the kids go with you and allow them to pick out fruits and veggies they can try. You can make it a game and have them choose one new healthy option each week. When they get the freedom to help choose healthy foods, they are more likely to eat them.
2. Try Planting a Small Family Garden
Another fun idea is to plant a small family garden. We love getting our kids involved in gardening. Even if you only have a small area to work with, you can fill some large pots or do one raised bed with some veggies. Let kids enjoy every part of the growing process and the thrill of watching plants finally produce vegetables.
When kids spend time tending their garden, they’ll be proud of what they have grown and will be more likely to try eating the veggies they have grown themselves. There is nothing that beats the flavor of home-grown vegetables!
3. Prepare Healthy Foods as a Family
Make meal preparation time an event for the whole family to get involved. Getting your kids involved in choosing and preparing meals will make them more interested in the foods they have helped to create. Start with foods they like, and show them how with some substitutions they can add in some healthy ingredients to their favorite foods.
Find tasks that the kids can help with, like washing, cutting, stirring and enjoy making healthy foods together. Use this time to teach kids about healthy food choices, and have a great bonding time as well.
4. Add Healthy Veggies to Foods Kids Love
You already know what foods your kids love, so to get them to start eating healthy foods, try adding veggies, and some whole grains to their favorite foods. If your kids like soup, trying adding a new veggie to the soup next time you serve it. Maybe your kids love spaghetti, and if they do, you can shred carrots or other veggies and add them to the sauce. Adding veggies to foods kids enjoy already is a great way to introduce them to new, healthy foods. 5. Trade Junk Food Favorites One For One
You can't expect your kids to be too excited when you take away all the favorite junk foods they are used to, and give them nothing in return. The way I converted my boys over was to buy or make a healthier option of something they liked a lot. I am picky over healthy foods needing to taste as good as any other foods out there, if not better. I think if you work on the taste of foods with good seasonings and eye appeal your kids will not feel deprived. This has been the case for us anyway.
We have switched out chips, cookies, cereals, and all kinds of other foods to exchanges that were a better option. This has been a winner way to go. We recently decided to go 100% gluten free in our house, so slowly I converted over all our bread, pasta, and even chocolate chip cookies, to gluten free options that my kids absolutely love.
This has taken some time, but now we will never go back!
6. Be Creative with Healthy Foods
A little creativity can go a long way when you’re trying to get your kids to eat healthy foods. Have fun with the healthy foods you serve to your kids. Come up with creative names for foods that will make kids giggle. Play some games with new foods and have your kids taste-test them while blindfolded and rate their favorite veggies and fruits.
Use veggie and fruit slices to make funny faces or cool shapes. Let kids have fun making cool things out of their veggies and fruits and the creativity will have them eating healthy foods in no time.
7. Look for Fun Songs and Shows that Promote Healthy Eating
Many kids’ shows and songs promote healthy eating, so you can use these to your advantage. Look for shows that talk about eating healthy fruits and veggies or songs that teach kids to make healthy food choice. A simple search online can help you find great songs and shows you can use to promote healthy eating in a fun way kids will enjoy.
8. Lead Your Kids By Example
This can be difficult, but a key component to making this conversion a success. Leading your kids by example is a major factor in your family kitchen experience. Your attitude about healthy food, making good choices, and being enthusiastic with your kids will make all the difference.
I hope these eight ways to get kids to eat healthy will set you on a new course.
And...For even more tips you can click over to my blog for a post I wrote: "How To Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy and Beg For More!"
Here's to happy healthy eating! ~Denise