As parents, we have two primary goals. First, we strive to keep our kids happy. Second, we do everything in our power to make sure they are healthy. There is so much that goes into both their happiness and their healthiness. Luckily, when you feel physically good, it helps you to feel emotionally good, and vice versa.
Both of these needs are critical, but there is one particularly important part of our children’s wellbeing that can be difficult to manage at times: healthy eating habits. Yes, getting our kids to eat healthily can be a struggle. The truth is, all of this hullabaloo is not necessary.
Though many kids will definitely be reluctant to eat their fruits and veggies at times, there are an abundance of ways to make healthy eating accessible and attainable for our little ones. Much of this has to do with helping our kids feel like they are in control and making sure that their routines never feel too shaken up.
Always remember that helping our children eat healthily should be a collaborative effort. If done right, it is even possible to make our kids excited at the prospect of getting all the right vitamins and minerals. The recipe for healthy eating is just to keep their food preferences in mind and be a little patient.
Use Natural Solutions To Prevent Mindless Snacking and Overeating
Just like adults, kids can also be prone to overeating (especially junk foods like chocolate cookies). Sometimes, it happens without us even noticing.
If we’re watching a particularly engrossing show, if something is especially delicious, or if we’re just bored, sometimes we look down and realize that a large portion of potato chips or ice cream tub is gone.
Then, sometimes we just get strong food cravings in between meals for no particular reason. Trying to stave off those cravings can feel like a losing battle. The more we think about the craving, the more we really want that food.
Thankfully, there are all-natural solutions available for just this purpose. The Natural Patch Co. has a helpful, effective, and kid-friendly Crave Patch here to help. Not only have our product lines received the Parent Tested Parent Approved Award, but kids are totally stuck on our 100% cool stickers.
The Crave Patch can be used by both children and adults and features essential oils such as bergamot, lemon, peppermint, and grapefruit to keep even your most pesky cravings at bay. The patch comes in the form of a sticker that can be placed directly onto your or your child’s shirt.
Get Kids Involved
A great way to make kids take more ownership over the food they eat is to allow them some amount of control. Of course, we are always the ultimate decision-makers as parents, but planning out meals with the help of our kids can be not only helpful but fun!
Kids are inherently creative, so together, you may land on some exciting, healthy snacks and meals neither one of you would have thought of on your own. Teach them how to read food labels, checking for protein, whole grains, carbohydrates, and more.
Introduce Them to a Variety of Different Foods
So many of our opinions, likes, and dislikes as adults are formed based on experiences from when we were kids. It is possible that you now like broccoli despite sprinting from the room whenever you were near it as a kid. However, oftentimes those associations stick with us. In any case, at least you don’t run away from it anymore, and that’s progress!
This progress is because you have had a great deal of time to acclimate and become more comfortable with broccoli. This is why it is so crucial to introduce our kids to a lot of different kinds of foods early on.
If a slightly older child has never tried broccoli and is suddenly faced with a bowl of it on their kitchen table, it is likely that they will be resistant at first. That being said, if they have had the option to eat broccoli for a while, they will be much more open to the experience.
If you are in the proud minority that just can’t seem to get enough broccoli at any age, congratulations! You are truly the best of us. For the rest of us mere mortals, however, the next section of this article is critical. It focuses on a tried-and-true trick that has helped both kids and adults eat their veggies for centuries.
Sneak Vegetables Into Foods They Already Like
Not a fan of spinach on its own? No problem! Chances are eaters of any age will enjoy this leafy green a lot more when it is cooked into something delicious. Any creamy, cheesy pasta goes great with spinach cooked into the sauce. It often wilts down to the point that it’s barely even noticeable anymore, and other tastes easily take center stage.
It’s certainly true that this trick works for adults too, and is likely one that we take advantage of often to get our daily serving of vegetables, but let’s focus on the kids. A heaping pile of cauliflower can be daunting enough to make any picky eater sweat, but cauliflower baked into whole wheat mac n’ cheese suddenly seems much more doable.
By doing this, not only are our kids getting vegetables to keep them healthy today, but it could also make them more confident and open-minded in the future.
Green pieces in their favorite dinner may start as a slight intrusion, but then it will eventually transition to something they hardly notice and maybe even like. Okay, our kids enjoying brussel sprouts may be a bit of a stretch, but a parent can dream.
Kids thrive on routine and structure (and nutrients), so any changes should be made gradually. Slowly adding some vegetables to their rotation of favorite dinners is a great way to accomplish just that.
Don’t Comment on Your Child’s Plate
This one can be hard to resist at times, especially when we see our children picking over their plates and moving green beans around with no real intention of eating them.
The truth is, commenting on our kids’ eating habits has a tendency to do more harm than good. Not only will they feel put under a microscope and that their parents are always watching, but it might make them reject vegetables even more.
Instead, always provide them with healthy options. Also, eating as a family and setting an example by eating healthily ourselves are much more productive options when it comes to helping our kids make good food choices.
Don’t Make Kids Finish Everything on Their Plates
Many of us remember our childhoods, regularly being told that we need to polish off our plates before we are excused from the dinner table. Though this was often done with nothing but the best intentions at heart, it may not be the most productive practice as kids grow up.
Encouraging kids to keep eating even when they are no longer hungry teaches them to ignore being full, which can easily lead to habitual overeating as time goes on. No one likes creating food waste, so consider gently encouraging your child to think about their hunger level next time. Remind them that they are always free to take more!
If your family is curious about dietary guidelines or anything from which yogurt has the most calcium and vitamin D or how to pick healthy fats and lean meats, reach out to a registered dietitian.
Even “Boring” Foods Can Be Exciting
Carrots, tomatoes, and peas are rarely foods that get anyone out of bed in the morning. This is to say that while they are healthy, they aren’t necessarily the most exciting offerings. However, that can all be changed when some fun dips, sauces, or sides are added to the mix.
Celery may not get the tummy party going, but ants on a log are sure to get everyone excited. The classic recipe calls for celery, peanut butter, and raisins which provide a good mix of food groups and nutrition for kids, but there are alternatives.
For children with peanut allergies, or for those who are simply not fans of peanut butter, try including one of these equally fun options:
- Cream cheese (sweet or savory)
- Ranch dressing
- Cookie Butter/Almond butter
You can even swap the celery for a crisp apple or bell peppers.
Similarly, carrots can provide the crunch of a delightful snack, but some kids may find them lacking in taste. This is where a delicious dip comes into play to save the day. These both also make for excellent, nutritious snacks for your child to have over the course of the day.
Remember That Kids Need To Eat Often Throughout the Day
Our kids grow all too quickly. This is readily apparent when we see that their boots from last year no longer fit or that their favorite pair of pants are getting a little short. This constant growth needs to be fueled by something, and it results in children having to eat more often during the day than fully grown adults.
Happy and Healthy
When it comes to helping our kids eat healthily and feel their best, it’s always best to work together rather than apart. When a child’s diet becomes a collaborative effort that keeps their tastes in mind, healthy habits are much more likely to stick with them as they age.