How to Get Your Kids on Board with Healthy Eating Habits
It’s hard to get kids eating healthy.
From the moment they’re old enough to don a Batman costume and go running around the neighborhood on Halloween, the allure of candy gets pressed into their brains. Couple that with the fact that most advertisers on children’s programming (excluding Sesame Street and the stuff on public media) are pushing junk food, and the cycle becomes even harder to break. Kids can get so used to the bad sugars — like the ones in candies, cookies, sodas and other unhealthy snacks — that they don’t like the taste of real fruits and vegetables because it’s not the same.
And that’s a big problem.
What kids need to understand, especially as they age into adolescence and their teenage years, is that the best healthy diet foods aren’t all gross grownup things like asparagus and bran flakes. In fact, there are so many healthy foods to eat on a diet — and by “diet,” we really just mean food that’s good for you. You just have to know where to look to find them. As a parent, here’s what you can do to give your kids a little nutrition counseling:
1. Focus on fruits as much as you can.
Fruit is essential because it’s loaded with good sugars, not the bad kind found in so many junk foods. The goal is to make it normal for your kids to reach for an orange instead of a candy bar when they want a small snack after school. In order to do that, it’s on to get creative with your selling. Offer to make fruit salads for desserts (going easy on the cream cheese and fruit dips, of course) and treat them as rewards for getting high marks in school or doing the dishes.
2. Take your kid on a trip to the supermarket.
Remember, the best healthy diet foods don’t have to be unappealing. The more you open up your child’s world to the bounty of healthy options available for their eating pleasure, the more likely they are to find something they like. Show them all the colorful produce they can choose from. Offer them a bite of some fun dishes you’ve made for yourself. Before you know it, your kids will be craving more oatmeal, and that’s much better than Lucky Charms.
3. Teach smart snacking habits.
For kids, snack time is essential to growth and development. But you don’t want your kids to shovel empty calories for the sake of flavor. Choose healthy snacks like fruit chips or veggie chips and heart-healthy nuts to lay down the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating. You can’t ever go wrong with carrot sticks, either.
The best healthy diet foods are the ones that taste good, too. The sooner your children find that out, the sooner they can set up healthy eating habits to last their entire lives. More on this topic.