I’m pretty sure if the Bible was written today, one of the verses would now read, “Because man cannot survive on french fries alone.” Eating healthy is a struggle for the entire family, but it can be even more of a struggle when you have a little one who’s a picky eater. So how can we successfully introduce whole foods to our kids to help them eat healthy? Katrina Rice is here to explain how!
How to Successfully Introduce Whole Food to Your Kids
Convincing your children to eat healthy whole foods can be very tough especially if they have already been exposed to processed foods. Allowing them to choose junk over healthy food will only contribute to the progress of poor eating habits they could keep once adults.
Teaching your kids how to love whole foods is not as simple as it sounds. It is a long process that requires effort, time, and a lot of patience. As parents it is our duty to give them the best teachings we can, and that includes where they get their nutrition from.
What happens if you child simply does not like eating healthy whole foods? Here are some tips to help you successfully teach your children to get to love eating healthy meals.
1. Do Not Rely On Fast Food
Children below the age of 7 tend to get hungry all the time. In fact, they should be eating healthy meals and snacks at least every three to four hours. If you plan to impart good eating habits on them, always come prepared with simple healthy snacks like yogurt, a bag of baby carrots or pretzels for them to munch on.
Your children will feel satiated and will then be in a better mood. Bring a cooler with you in the car if you have some food ready for them to eat later. That way you do not need to rely on buying fast food to feed your kids whenever they want to eat.
2. Make One Healthy Meal For The Entire Family
One bad habit some parents have is cooking a separate meal for their kids. Though it gets them to eat more easily, this practice does no good for their eating preferences. Instead prepare the same meal for the entire family and make sure to eat together with your children at the dining table.
Serve the food “family-style” and allow them to put the food on their own plate themselves. Children mimic their parents and if they see you put healthy food on your own plate, that is what they will eventually do. Be patient with this method as it will take time for them to actually enjoy the taste of vegetables.
3. Refrain From Demanding
As hard as it may be, avoid repeating to your kids to eat their vegetables. As a parent, it is your responsibility to prepare a balanced meal and it is their duty to eat whatever you prepare. If you see a particular food not consumed on his plate, ask him why he has not eaten it.
Get some feedback and try to rebut their objections by suggesting how you and everybody else love the food. It could be a long process but do not give up on that.
4. Slowly Introduce New Foods
Children do not like change as easily as we wish sometimes. It will take time for them to fall in love with green peas or Brussel sprouts. However, one trick you can use is to apply a little “hero worship”.
For example, if your son loves Kobe Bryant, tell him that he eats Brussel sprouts to make him stronger. Use this card subtly and sparingly to avoid getting caught. Let him know that once his body gets used to the taste, he will love it just as how Kobe loves his vegetables.
5. Use Sauces and Dips
By now, you know that kids will eat anything with cheese or tomato sauce. You can easily make them eat their food by giving them dips or sauces to mask the flavor of their vegetables.
You can serve thin slices of carrots with some salsa or ranch dressing or perhaps use melted cheese dips to slowly lure them into eating them. You can use this trick regularly and gradually decrease the amount of dressing and sauces as weeks go by.
6. Introduce Fiber At Breakfast
Kids love breakfast meals. Instead of serving them cereals, give them a bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh fruits and maple syrup. You can also serve oatmeal pancakes, and whole wheat waffles.
You can sneak in flax seeds, chia seeds and other healthy ingredients to pack on the nutritional value best for their growth. Make sure to let them know what they ate after they finished their plate and commend them for it. This tip helps them realize that healthy foods can be delicious too.
7. Prepare Food With Your Kids
Children who are involved in preparing their own food are more interested in eating it. You can take them grocery shopping with you and let them choose the ingredients of the recipe you agreed to cook together. If they are old enough, allow them to cut fruits and vegetables under your supervision.
8. Do Not Forbid Treats
It is true that treats contain a lot of sugar and can possibly cause child obesity or diabetes. But if you take the necessary steps and precautions, they can be your number one ally in teaching them to love eating healthy whole foods. Treats are an important tool in your “reward system”.
For example, you can tell them that they can have ice cream or french fries on the weekends if they eat their vegetables for a whole week. You can also give them a handful of chocolate almonds if they cleaned up their plates or helped you set the table.
9. Be A Role Model
Even if you dislike eating vegetables yourself, you have to act like you love them to lead by example. If you have erratic eating habits, you need to correct them too so that they do not copy you. If not, they will grow up thinking that this sort of behavior is completely normal. This is one reason why parenting will make you improve yourself in the process.
Their good eating habits start with their parents and at home, so make sure you set a good example for what food they should be eating and keep it consistent until it becomes a habit.
About Katrina Rice
Katrina Rice is a mom and a freelance writer. She strongly believes in the concept of holistic wellness through healthy and natural living, traveling and immersing one’s self in new activities. A self-proclaimed health enthusiast, she hopes to inspire more people to do the same.