Tips and Strategies for Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits in Your Family
Most of us have a pretty good idea of what healthy eating is: lots of fruits and vegetables and not too much fat and sugar. But when it comes to kids, knowing what is healthy is only the start. And even if you shop ‘healthy’ it does not mean that your kid will willingly eat it.
There is hope. Kids need some extra encouragement and guidance along with a few of these strategies your kid is sure to eat healthy.
Be a gatekeeper.
It’s likely that the easiest way to get your kids to eat healthy is to remove the less-healthy options. Take control over what food and snack choices are in your home. If a kid is hungry they will eat it when there isn’t an alternative. Have you ever heard of a kid starving to death because his parents would not feed him potato chips?
Keep healthy food in sight.
As for those less-than-good-for-you foods, keep them in high cabinets and out of your kid’s reach. Arrange your refrigerator and cabinets so that healthy foods are the first foods that you see. If you choose to have some unhealthy options in the house keep them out of sight and you and your kids will be much less likely to choose them as an option.
Make healthy food convenient.
Wholesome foods, particularly fruits and vegetables require little preparation which is great for your ‘starving’ kid and you. Have a fruit basket at eye level on the counter at all times or have a container with carrots and celery sticks ready to go in the refrigerator. You might be surprised at how many more fruits and vegetables your kid will eat simply by having them visible and easy to grab.
Make learning about food fun.
Taking some of the mystery out of where foods come from can work wonders for some selective eaters. Prepare family meals together, have your kid mix the ingredients and serve the food to the rest of the family. Plant a vegetable garden as a family project and put your kid in charge of watering and picking the ripe vegetables. Kids that are involved are more likely to be a willing participant in the eating process.
Keep an eye on Portion sizes.
Parents often stress over how much their kids should be eating. Whether you are trying to get a selective eater to take a bite of anything green or limit the amount of dessert your sweet-toothed kid wants watching portions is necessary. Knowing the size of a healthy portion will give you some needed perspective. You can use the USDA’s Guidelines for Healthy Eating to learn about what a healthy portion is.
Set a healthy example.
Keep in mind that eating meals together isn’t just a great way to catch up on your family’s day it is also the perfect time to role-model healthy eating habits. Kids learn by watching their parents…That’s food for thought!