Mealtime can sometimes feel like a war zone. Instead of enjoying the food and talking with your family, you banter with your kids to eat their vegetables instead. Fortunately, there are easy and effective ways you can teach your kids the value and benefits of eating nutritious food. Use the tips below the next time you prepare a meal and change the tides to healthy living’s favor.
Set an example
There are countless ways to practice smart parenting, but none are as effective as setting a good example for your kids. Children learn by imitating people’s actions—their friends, their classmates, and of course, their parents. Their habits form by watching how other people conduct their daily lives. Hence, if you want your kids to eat healthily, you need to start looking at how you eat as well. Act and put into practice what you want to teach them, boosting your health in the process.
Give kids options
Nobody likes to be forced into doing anything, including eating healthy foods. However, if you present options, the kids will be more likely to eat something they chose.
Start small by preparing healthy snack options like cut fruits or boiled eggs. Once the children get used to it, apply this tip to meals. Prepare healthy side dishes like sauteed vegetables or mini salads. Indeed, by giving them the ability to choose, they are more likely to consume the foods you present to them.
Limit portion sizes
If you are introducing new food to eat, limit the amount of food you put on your children’s plates. For now, do not worry about if they are eating enough or not. If they like the food, they will ask for second servings. The important thing is their plates contain all of the important food groups, such as their carbohydrates, proteins, and veggies.
It will also help you avoid wastes. Give them a taste first, and then slowly let them get used to it. As they become more accustomed to the taste, the less likely they will say no the next time you cook that food for dinner.
Explain why a particular food is good
Instead of forcing your kids to eat, highlight the food’s health benefits. For example, carrots are good for their eyes, and calcium will help them grow taller.
Moreover, make sure to cater to your children’s wants. To illustrate, if you have a child who wants beautiful long hair, you can point out how certain healthy foods can help you achieve that.
By catering to their wishes and how it can help them, you have better chances of convincing them rather than forcing them to finish their food.
Learn to compromise
Another useful tip for frustrated parents is to sneak in healthy food with their children’s favorite foods. For example, you can cut vegetables into small pieces and put these in their favorite soup. You can also dice and mash fruits and add these to pastries and other delightful goodies. In this way, they do not even realize that they are eating healthy.
Involve the kids in meal prep
As mentioned earlier, children are more likely to try new foods when they feel like they have a say in what they eat. The same idea applies when children get to work on the food they are eating.
Get the kids involved in the buying, planning, and cooking of meals. In meal planning, show them healthy food choices and let them mix and match different combinations. In this manner, you will have a better idea of what they like and find ways to incorporate vegetables and whole foods.
As for cooking, use it as a teaching opportunity to educate them about measuring ingredients and safety rules in the kitchen. Please be cautious, and keep children away from dangerous objects (e.g., knives). If your child is still young or quite energetic, hold the cooking session out of the kitchen for safety.
Cook more at home
Homecooked meals are often healthier than take-out. Fast foods, in particular, are notoriously bad for your health. Foods made outside often use more sugar, seasoning, and fats to enhance flavor but lower their nutritional value.
Thus, try cooking more at home. If you have trouble finding time to cook, consider cooking in large batches and reheat as necessary.
Make your own healthy snacks
Processed snacks such as cookies, chips, and candies contain too much sugar. While eating them once in a while is not bad, children should avoid eating them every day. For a healthier option, make your own snacks instead. Aside from being more nutritious, you can be creative as you like with their presentation.
Some fun, healthy snacks include animal-shaped fruits, banana cupcakes, and frozen fruit pops. Have your children weigh in on which one they like the best for some bonding and learning time.
Overall, eating healthy is not only about choosing one nutritious food for each meal. It is a lifestyle change. While teaching your kids to eat healthy may seem difficult, there are creative ways you can go about it. Use the tips above to transform your meal times from war zones to happier gatherings.