Eating healthy is a lifelong commitment, and it's easier when everyone in the family is on board. But getting kids to eat healthy foods isn't always easy. Their palates are developing, and they're often tempted by things like candy and fast food — foods that can be tempting but aren't necessarily good for them. That doesn't mean you should give up hope! Here are some tips on how to get kids to eat healthy foods:
Try new foods together.
One of the best ways to get your kids to try new foods is to do it together. You can make it a family affair by trying something new every week or even every day, depending on how adventurous your family is. Try different kinds of fruits and vegetables with your kids, or offer them a new food at dinner time and see how they react. If they don’t like it and refuse to eat it, let them know that you understand, but also encourage them by telling them that you think they might like this food if they tried it again.
Combine new foods with old favorites.
Sometimes kids can be suspicious of new things, which can include trying healthy new food. A solution to this could be to mix healthier foods with a food that they already love or are very familiar with. For example, if they’re not sure about eating carrot sticks, they could try eating it with a tasty dip that they enjoy.
Prepare more home-cooked meals.
One of the best ways to make sure that your little ones enjoy healthier foods is by preparing home-cooked meals yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. Create healthier versions of their favorite meals by omitting added salt and sugar and focusing on whole food ingredients. To save time (and money), prepare healthy dishes in advance, then freeze them to use wherever needed. Your kids can get involved too! Why not make a weekly meal plan together, so they can help you choose the recipes and look forward to the tasty meals to come!
Get them involved in the cooking process.
The next time you’re making a healthy recipe, get your kids to help out. By getting them involved in the cooking process, they’re more likely to try new foods and they can even learn some basic cooking skills along the way! They can help with chopping and mixing ingredients, or even just stirring the pot. You can also give them control over things like setting timers or even being in charge of searching for recipes on their own. They'll be excited to taste their creations and enjoy healthier food when they've helped prepare the dish!
Pack healthy lunches with their input.
Allow your kids to choose what they want to eat. It might sound counter-intuitive, especially if they’re picky eaters, but if they are the ones choosing the food, they'll be more likely to enjoy it in their lunch. Doing simple activities such as writing the grocery list (so they can pick the healthy food options that they prefer), or preparing the food together is a great way to spend quality time together while giving your kids ownership over what’s in their lunchbox.
Let them choose the containers for their lunch. Picking out their own lunch box or container is a great way to make them excited for lunchtime, making them more likely to enjoy what’s inside (yes even if it’s healthy!).
Freeze fruit and use it in smoothies or to create healthy ice cream.
If you have a lot of fruit that's about to go bad, freezing it before it does is a great way to use up the excess. The nutrients in fruit are preserved by freezing and this means that frozen fruit can be used as an alternative to sugar in beverages without any loss of nutritional value.
Freezing fruit also makes it easy to store leftovers so they're available when you need them—like at breakfast time!
- Cut your fruit into chunks to make storage easier and place in a freezer-proof plastic bag or box (if freezing bananas, make sure to peel them first!)
- If using stone fruits or citrus fruits such as oranges or grapefruits, remove all of the skin and pithy parts with a paring knife so that just the flesh remains; discard these pieces or save them for another use like making a herbal tea or a healthy homemade salad dressing!
- Add the frozen fruit to beverages such as smoothies or homemade milkshakes as an alternative to any processed ingredients.
- You can make delicious healthy ice cream by blending a frozen banana with the added flavor of choice such as vanilla, cacao powder, berries, peanut butter and more. Have fun making this with your kids and try out different flavor combinations.
Give kids a behind-the-scenes look at food.
Kids are naturally curious, and if you show them how food is made, then they’ll naturally be more inclined to try it. Why not take a trip to your local farmer’s market to pique their interest in foods like fruit, vegetables, and grains. Let them explore the different colors and textures and pick out their favorites to try.
Sometimes the key to encouraging your child to eat healthier foods can be to let them select between healthy options. It allows them to enjoy the autonomy that they crave while giving you peace of mind that they’re choosing something that they enjoy and that’s good for them.
Never force them to eat anything.
Encouraging kids to make healthy food choices is essential, but it’s also important to not make them feel forced to eat something that they don’t want to as this can make the experience stressful for them. Instead, try to find ways to include healthier options within their diet such as making a smoothie with some hidden green vegetables like spinach to add extra vitamins without changing the sweet taste, or working with them to find the healthy meal options they do enjoy so you can provide them on a regular basis.
Make sure your kitchen is stocked with plenty of good-for-you options for when they're hungry.
The best way to avoid your kids snacking on junk food is to keep it out of the house. Instead, stock up on healthy alternatives so they can reach for these instead. This can be as simple as having a few fresh vegetables or fruit on hand, as well as some nuts and seeds. If you want to take it a step further, try making a batch or two of homemade granola bars or energy balls before the week begins so that your kid doesn't have to go without sustenance when they need it most (and you don't have to deal with fretting about whether they'll actually eat something). Or provide them with some nutritious RawRev bars so they can easily enjoy a sweet, healthy treat without the hassle of baking them from scratch.
You should also keep snacks in other locations around the house: in their room; at their desk at school and in the car.
Lead by example.
We know that sometimes it can be tricky to encourage your kids to eat well, but you have the power to make a big impact towards their ideas and attitudes around food.
Kids are hugely influenced by their environment and naturally mirror their parent’s habits. You can use this to your advantage by simply enjoying plenty of healthy meals and snacks yourself, and your kids are sure to follow suit.