Raising Healthy Eaters Without Losing Your Mind
Post may include affiliate links. We may earn a fee if you use them at no cost to you. Disclosure.
Do you worry about your kid’s eating habits? Are they eating enough healthy foods? Are they getting enough fruits, vegetables or vitamins? If so, you’re not alone! Poor nutrition can impact a child’s immune system or result in behavioral, developmental, or growth issues. If you’re reading this post, chances are that you want to know how to teach your kid healthy eating habits and by the end of this post, you’ll have some great new ideas to try out!
Kids are awesome most of the time, and I know I’m not alone when I say that our lives would be a lot less joyful and have a lot less meaning if it weren’t for them. That being said, there are times when they can be quite a handful, and one of those times is definitely whenever you want to make them eat something they don’t want to.
This can be a bottomless well of frustration for many new parents, and because of this a lot of them take the “easy” way out, and that is simply letting them eat whatever they want to eat and not what they should be eating.
This is a really bad idea, because their growing bodies need all sorts of vital nutrients that they won’t get unless they’re eating healthy, balanced meals. So what you should be doing is turning to certain strategies that will make your kids try new foods and genuinely enjoy them.
Raising Healthy Eaters Tip #1: Don’t Preach
The first mistake many parents make is going for the good old “if you don’t eat your veggies, there’s no dessert for you”, and this is ineffective for multiple reasons.
- Children don’t really respond that well to pressure
- Chances are that such an approach will just annoy them
After all, if you take a moment to think of your childhood, you probably remember how frustrated you felt when you used to hear the same phrase. Instead, just keep serving the healthy stuff and sooner or later their curiosity will get the better of them and they’ll end up tasting it. When they finish their veggies on their own, be sure to praise them for doing so and they’ll probably take a liking to it.
Raising Healthy Eaters Tip #2: Children’s Cookbooks
When it comes to food, the visual aspect is just as important for children as what they can taste. This is why children are drawn to beautifully designed cereal boxes with whimsical cartoon characters on them, and this is something that you can take advantage of.
What I did with my kids is I bought a few children’s cookbooks, read them with my kids and let them decide what they wanted to have for dinner. I wouldn’t always stick to the recipe exactly, but my kids were none the wiser and as long as I paid attention to the visual element, they’d clean out their plates every time.
Raising Healthy Eaters Tip #3: Shop with Your Kids
Another way to engage your kids and make the process of preparing and eating food fun is to actually take them grocery shopping with you. This can be a bit strenuous if your kids are tired and cranky, so make sure you take that into consideration. Make a grocery list and let them help you get the ingredients you need, and as soon as they feel like helping they’ll be a lot more enthusiastic about dinner itself than they would be if they weren’t involved at all.
Raising Healthy Eaters Tip #4: Get Them Involved with the Cooking
Once you get back from the store, it’s time to get dinner started. Your kids can be a big help here, too; as long as you aren’t too much of a perfectionist and don’t mind a bit of a mess. Just keep them away from the knives and the stove so they can’t injure themselves and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to help you break and mix a few eggs or knead some dough. Despite what many people think, kids really like to help around the kitchen because it makes them feel more like a grownup, which is always a plus from their perspective.
Raising Healthy Eaters Tip #5: Eat With Them
Okay, so dinner is ready, the kitchen is a bit of a mess, and now it’s time for you and your kids to enjoy the fruits of your hard work – together. Having dinner at the same table and at the same time and commenting on the meal is a really powerful bonding process that will make sure the whole experience is remembered by your children as a positive one. That way, they’ll begin to associate healthy food with pleasant memories, and your job is basically done. The more often you repeat this process, the more efficient it will become, and before you know it you have a child that will gladly eat anything you put on their plate.
Have you used any of these tips? Do you have any more tips for raising healthy eaters? Leave a comment below and join the conversation!
Hi, this post caught my attention on Twitter, because I recently wrote about this topic too, but with a slightly different angle. All your tips are great! Maybe I can add some “golden rules” to keep kids engaged and positive to eating: The parents responsibilities are to decide what to serve, cook it, make sure that it tastes good (from a child’s perspective) and that the meals are nice and a positive experience overall. They also decide on table manners that are acceptable. The children’s responsibility is to decide how much food he or she want to eat and if they want to eat. This way meals will never become power struggles. 🙂
Those are great golden rules! Thanks so much for sharing them ! Avoiding a power struggle definitely seems to be the key to helping them develop those healthy habits. It’s about making them WANT to eat healthy food rather than forcing them to. Thank you !
Great tips! I have some junk food obsessed kids but have been slowly changing what I buy for groceries so there are less junk options and more healthy.
So glad you like it! I know how that goes! I love junk food myself and always have to curb that craving! 🙂 My boys are actually better about that than me!
I love this! I’m going to try this. Ive one picky eater..another growing out of eating healthy..and one starting on solid foods. Thanks for the tips!
Oh boy! You’ve got your hands full! Well… you may also like my post about picky eaters! Check this out 🙂 https://www.theanalyticalmommy.com/the-healthy-food-even-your-picky-eater-will-eat/
your post is perfect! Love your tips!
Aww thanks so much for reading and commenting! I’m so glad you liked it!
These are great tips. We go to the library and check out kids cooking books. Them I let my kids choose a couple of recipes that we can make together.
Wow ! This is a really great idea! I need to try it!