If you want your kids to develop healthy eating habits, focus on the fun. Shape positive behaviors by teaching them about the importance of good health early on, and keep them from developing bad habits with long-lasting effects. Here are some strategies to make it easier:
1.Grocery shop with your kids
Your kids will be more likely to eat healthy meals if they have helped with the planning and shopping. Even young children can become more accepting if they are part of the process. When kids feels like they have a voice in meal-planning, they are more likely to eat healthy options. Let them help you make choices - pears or peaches, cheddar or swiss, green beans or salad.
Don't forget to teach kids where their food comes from. Plant a garden, stop by a local farmers' market, or visit an activities farm. Some local family-friendly options around central and north central Indiana include: Trader's Point Creamery, Stuckey Farm, Tyner Pond Farm, and Fair Oaks Farms.
2.Give kids more choices
Kids love to be a part of decision-making. Create a base meal, and then let your kids assemble the plate from a few choices. Set guidelines that help them understand what a healthy plate looks like in terms of color and portion.
Help your children discover what they like and don't like on their own. If they want to dip their steamed green beans in hummus or dip their raw carrots in a little ketchup, why stop them?
3.Keep healthy snacks around
If you keep your kitchen stocked full of healthy snacks instead of junk food, it's far more likely your children will choose to eat healthy snacks. Avoid buying snack cakes and soda pop. Healthy snacks often lead to good meal time choices, and poor snack choices typically result in less healthy meal habits.
4. Let kids help you cook
Inviting your kids into the kitchen and teaching them to cook can be a powerful tool to get them to eat more healthy foods. Kids are more likely to eat nutritious dishes that they have helped create. From simple fruit smoothies to breakfast egg dishes, kids are capable of helping create their own food.
It might be difficult at first, but let your child's imagination run wild. And, if they ask you to try something they've made, do so. You might be surprised at how good they are at cooking healthy dishes.
The key to kids and healthy eating is making their experience with food fun and empowering. If you are concerned about your child's health and need help making changes, the Logansport Memorial Hospital team can help.
Make an appointment with your primary care physician or with your child's pediatrician to create a plan for a healthier future.