Kids can be the pickiest of eaters, and at times you might find yourself giving up and giving in, letting them have mac and cheese – yet again – for dinner tonight. About 20% of children are picky eaters. While most grow out of it, it’s important to instill healthy habits in your little ones now, so they can grow up to make healthy, nutritious choices as adults and work on improving their health throughout their lives.
So, how can you create healthy food habits with your kids now?
Some experts make it sound like a complicated task. But, you don’t have to know much about GMOs, preservatives, or things like deuterium in your child’s food to help them create smart eating habits.
Keep these three tips in mind to encourage healthy eating that you and your child can work on together.
1. Know That You’re In Charge
Understand that you control the supply of food that enters your house. If you don’t buy something for your child, they won’t eat it. Even if they might be upset in the store about not getting their sugary cereal or candy bar, you’re ultimately in control.
Yes, this might cause some initial arguments, but if you stick to being conscious about the foods you buy and your child recognizes that, they will start to accept the idea of healthy eating more easily. Make it clear that your child can either choose to eat what you’re providing, or whether they want to eat at all. It won’t take long for them to choose the nutritious items over an empty stomach.|
2. Drinks Always Count
Even if you’re sticking to mostly healthy foods in the house, you can totally derail your child’s nutrition with sugary drinks like sodas, sweetened juices, and sports drinks.
Not only are these drink options loaded with calories and sugar, but they are often “empty” calories, providing absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. If your child likes the carbonation of sodas, switch to sparkling water or flavored waters. Or, offer them natural fruit juices that are slightly diluted with water.
3. Be a Role Model
You might not think your child looks up to you all the time, but they do. Children are always watching what their parents do. So, be sure to set a good example when it comes to your own eating habits.
Don’t skip meals, choose healthier options for yourself, and make nutrition an important part of your life. If your child sees that you’re enjoying nutritious, healthy food, they’ll be more likely to give it a try for themselves.
Another idea is to get your child in the kitchen with you. Kids are often more likely to eat something they’ve cooked or helped with. So, give them safe kitchen tasks to perform, such as tossing vegetables in a salad or adding seasonings to lean proteins.
Is it okay to treat your child (and yourself) to a less-than-healthy treat once in a while? Absolutely. But, if you’re trying to combat the nutritional issues of a picky eater, these three simple tips can make a big difference, and can completely change the way your child’s diet looks on a daily basis.