Welcome to Kids Health Café, Discussing Food and Lifestyle for Healthy Kids.
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Healthy Eating for Kids
Children’s palates can be as varied as their personalities.
While some will eat anything placed on their plates, others will refuse to eat food that is not a specific color. If your kids fall into the pickier group, you may think it is impossible to get them to eat healthy foods. Eating a nutritiously varied diet that represents multiple food groups is important for children’s growth and health, but also puts good habits in place that will be carried through adolescence and later life.
Tips for Healthy Eating
- Consistency: While your child might balk the first time you offer him or her spinach, it is important to keep trying. Studies have shown that it can take up to ten tries before children become willing to try a new food. Instead of giving up after making it once, be persistent and maybe you will find their new favorite vegetable!
- Model eating healthy foods: Practice what you preach! If you are trying to get your child to eat something healthy, but are eating fast food or sweets while doing so, your argument is not as strong as it could be. Eating healthy foods with your kids promotes family time and shows them the importance of nutritious foods.
- Cook as family: When possible, including your kids in the preparation and cooking process is a great way to introduce new and healthy foods. Making the cooking process fun and about family togetherness makes the kids feel like they are a part of the process. This makes them more inclined to sample the food, as they had a part in cooking it!
- Make meals colorful: This is not to say a fluorescent blue soda counts toward the total number. Incorporating foods, specifically vegetables, that vary in color means that more vitamins and minerals are being represented. The more that can be included in one meal, the better. Also, it serves as a fun way to be creative at mealtimes.
- Garden at home: If possible, starting a home garden is a good way to get kids involved in learning about how food is produced. They also might be more likely to try a vegetable if they were excited about growing it from seed!
- Have healthy foods available: Often, kids will eat what is most convenient and easiest to obtain. If there is junk food lying around the house, it would be the easiest choice for them to eat! Instead, make sure there are plenty of healthy options of all kinds that are easily accessible.
- Don’t use food as a bribe: When you talk about nutrition with your kids, you should emphasize all the reasons why eating healthy is important. Junk food should not be used as a reward. In the same vein, children should not have to finish all the food on their plates. Learning to eat to satisfy hunger and not overeat are important lessons.
When you introduce healthy eating to your children, you should present it in a way that represents part of lifestyle change, rather than something unpleasant or temporary. When these habits are taught from a young age, healthy choices become something that kids don’t have to think twice about.