Getting children to develop healthy eating habits can be challenging. While kids can be adventurous when it comes to playtime, the same thing doesn’t always apply when it comes to trying new foods. A lot of children are happiest sticking to the same foods all the time — or they just seem to want to eat things like potato chips and candy!
Kids need to develop healthy eating habits. If they aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables, then they may end up with nutritional deficiencies. They’ll also miss out on a lot of great foods and new opportunities if they stick with the same thing every day. Plus, if they just want to eat the same thing all the time, this means you may have to make two different dinners — one for you and one for them!
Helping kids learn healthy eating habits early in life will carry them through to adulthood. Healthy food can be delicious, and both look and taste great – and it doesn’t have just to be broccoli all the time. We have some great tips to make sure that your kids will be willing to try a variety of different healthy foods and enjoy them too!
Stick to a schedule
It can be tempting to let your kids graze all day — but there are a few problems with this. If your children are constantly eating, they may tend just to want snack foods — which generally end up being junk food, not healthy things like carrots or eggs. They may also start eating simply because it becomes a habit, not because they are really hungry.
Have set times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s okay to let your kids snack in between meals – but they should plan to have something healthy for it and not just fill up on chocolate bars or chips. Having a light but tasty snack like an apple or a clementine with a little bit of protein like peanut butter or low-fat cheese can help tide your kids over to the next meal while ensuring they won’t be too full to eat it.
Make sure your kids drink enough water
Drinking enough water can be a struggle even for adults. You may provide your kids with juice or milk at each meal — but you also need to make sure they are drinking enough water regularly as well.
Water doesn’t provide nutrients as juice or milk does, but it’s vital to making sure your kids stay healthy. Water is essential to helping your kids function properly — it aids digestion, helps avoid constipation, and is also essential for proper blood circulation.
Give your kids their own water bottles and fill them up every day. If your children are old enough to have a smartphone, set a timer on it that reminds them to check a few times a day to make sure, they’ve been drinking water. For younger children, you may have to remind them to drink, especially if they’ve been busy running around and playing.
Take your kids with you to shop for groceries
To help your kids become more interested in food and what they are eating, making them a part of the process! Kids just assume food “magically”’ appears when they need it — they don’t realize it takes time and effort to just get the food home from the store — let alone cooking it.
Ask your kids to help you make a grocery list. You can let them put a treat on it — but they also need to think about healthy foods they enjoy and make sure they add them too. Once you get to the grocery store, have them help you find items. If they see a new fruit or vegetable and are curious about it — add it to the pile! Don’t buy it in bulk, as you may find out none of you like it — but it’s worth trying at least once.
Kids take a lot more pride and interest in things if they are involved — so taking your kids to the grocery store is a great way to get them to expand their horizons when it comes to trying different kinds of food.
Teach your kids to snack smarter
It’s okay for kids to snack — as long as it’s not coming right after a meal or right before the next one. Snacks should be spaced out in between meals and not be too large, so kids don’t fill up on them up. You should also try to include protein in a snack to help make sure it’s balanced and sufficiently filling.
Here are some great, easy-to-prepare kid-friendly snacks:
- Whole-grain crackers with cheese
- Apple or pear slices with peanut butter
- Carrot or celery sticks with hummus
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Lightly salted or unsalted popcorn
A lot of these snacks can be prepared ahead of time. Cut up fruit or vegetables and keep them in the fridge, so they’re ready to go if your kids get hungry. Snacks like hard-boiled eggs or popcorn can also be prepared ahead of time and keep for at least a few days.
Get your kids involved in cooking
Along with grocery shopping, another great way to get your kids more interested in food and what they eat is to have them help it cook it! The kind of task you’ll assign your kids will depend on their age.
Little ones, you’ll want to give simple tasks that don’t involve any risk or being near the stove. Ask your kids to help you stir up a salad or mix together the ingredients for bread or banana muffins. If your children are older, you can give them more challenging tasks, such as measuring ingredients, chopping up vegetables or stirring hot dishes like soup or stir fry.
A great way to get kids involved and interested in cooking is with kid-friendly, healthy meal kits from Hello Fresh. When your meal kit arrives, your kids can help you unpack it and see all the fresh ingredients inside! When the time comes to make the meal, you can ask your kids for age-appropriate help — whether that’s putting all the ingredients out on the counter, mixing them together, or cooking them up on the stove!
Cooking together is a great way to increase your kid’s interest in what they eat and encourage them to develop healthy eating habits.
Always eat at the table
We all lead busy lives, and it can be tempting to eat on the go or just grab a bit and sit in front of the TV. But eating in front of the TV can distract you from focussing on the pleasure of what you’re eating, as well as interacting with others around you.
Institute a “no screens” rule at the table — and that applies to adults too. Everyone needs to focus on enjoying their meals and interacting with each other. You may find this challenging at first, but by focussing on your food, you’ll slow down and enjoy it more.
Be a good role model
If you want your kids to have good eating habits, you’ll need to practice them as well. Here are some great ways you can model good habits for your kids:
- Be consistent in your eating habits. Don’t tell your kids they can’t have a snack 20 minutes before dinner, and then have one yourself!
- Be mindful of your eating habits. Are you eating because you’re truly hungry or for some other reason?
- Avoid sending negative messages about food and weight. Don’t tell your kids you’re not having a second donut or a huge bowl of ice cream because it’s “bad”. Tell them that it’s important to balance what you eat so your body has the right fuel — and that treats are fine, but shouldn’t be only a small part of a balanced diet.
There are so many ways to help kids develop good eating habits
It can be challenging to help kids develop good eating habits, but taking small steps each day can help your kids become more open-minded about what they are willing to eat. Sticking to regular mealtimes and healthy snacks will ensure that your kids eat consistently, but they aren’t just grazing all day.
Getting kids involved in both food shopping and food preparation will help make them more willing to try new foods — they may even discover that they really like to cook! Meal services like Hello Fresh can provide kid-friendly meals that are quick and easy for you to put together with your children — enabling you to have fun while cooking together.
And most importantly, be a good role model for your children when it comes to healthy eating habits. Eat together as a family and try to stick to a balanced diet where things like cookies and ice cream are okay — but they aren’t considered a meal! The more your kids see you model a healthy attitude towards food, the more they will want to emulate you — and you’ll all end up healthier and happier for it!