The kids might not whine or moan when you put healthy food in front of them, but it still may be a challenge to get them to eat healthy food. It seems that wherever kids go today, whether it is school, extracurricular activities or the corner shop, they are always confronted with sugar-laden and fatty snacks. Fortunately there is also an abundance of healthy choices available, with many products geared towards younger taste buds. With some thought and planning, you can encourage your children to make healthier choices. The secret is having patience and offering options to improve eating habits.
To encourage children eat healthy, you have to start early in more than one sense. Instilling good eating habits in a child’s first years is the best way to ensure he or she will make positive food choices. Make choosing vegetables second nature, and it will be likely that your child will reach for vegetable chips in the supermarket rather than salty chips that lack nutrients. If you and your family are starting your health kick late, it is not too late to get your kid to eat healthier food, but it takes time to develop lifestyle changes. Habits that have taken years to develop can’t be broken overnight, but small, gradual changes are likely to be successful with discipline and consistency.
Healthy eating should begin early in life and also early in the day. Mothers have always urged their children to consume a healthy breakfast and this advice should be heeded. How a person eats at the beginning of the day helps determine how they will continue for lunch, dinner and snacks between meals. Breakfast provides fuel after a long night, and it is important to eat healthy proteins as well as some carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals in the morning. Talk to your child about what he or she likes to eat in the morning, whether it’s banana bread, granola, flavored yogurt, or healthy cereal. Avoid the temptation to serve sugar filled chocolate breakfast cereals even if they are fortified with vitamins and iron.
It is essential the child knows that a healthy regimen doesn’t mean giving up what he or she likes to eat. You can make pizza, hamburgers, and tacos with soy replacements for the meat and cheese. Enjoy baked delights without milk or dairy with Hampton Creek’s (hamptoncreek) Just Cookies and Just Brownies that allow you to make baked delicacies from healthy mixes. To eliminate saturated fat, you can use soy and almond milk instead of cows milk on cereals and oatmeal, or serve it in a glass. Make scrambled eggs or omelets with egg whites or an egg replacement that contains no animal fats.
Some parents engage in the somewhat controversial practice of sneaking healthy food into treats. While the purpose of a adopting a healthy diet for the entire family involves encouraging children to make positive food choices themselves, some people feel it doesn’t hurt to sneak some beet juice into a brownie recipe or use water from boiled vegetables for a cup of cocoa. In addition to adding healthy foods to otherwise unhealthy treats, some parents decide to sneak little bit of sugar into carrots or other vegetables to make them more tempting.
If children don’t appreciate the food that’s placed in front of them, one solution may be to get them involved in making the food. Many children like to participate in the kitchen, and even though this might slow down the preparation process, it is worthwhile if the child learns skill of making food and also eats a healthy dinner. You can go beyond your preparation and teach a child to grow vegetables even if only in a small pot by the window. When children are involved with growing vegetables, they have a deeper appreciation for plant foods and are proud of their accomplishments. They will not only want to eat a tomato they have grown, but share their efforts with other people.
Encouraging children to eat healthy can be a challenge in a society where advertisements push consumption of sugary sodas and fats. Introduce good food early on and get a child in the habit consuming vegetables and fruits. Discuss the concept of vitamins and minerals and how much better the child will feel if he or she eats a healthy meal. Children who get involved in food preparation are often more eager to eat the meals they make than those who feel that food is being imposed on them. With patience, you and your family can develop food habits that will improve your health.
Photo Source: Flickr