Fussy Eaters? No Problem! Get Your Kids to Enjoy their Veggies.
I hear it all the time; “My kids won’t eat that. All they want is…. (fill in the blank).” Now, I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m not a mom, and I know this can be challenging, but you need to remember who is in charge and who buys the food. If you don’t buy junk, they can’t eat junk. To take it further, you are their most important role model. What they see you eating is very influential to them. Am I saying that kids (or adults) should never have cookies or chips? Of course not. We want them to have a healthy relationship with food and have everything, including treats, in moderation. That being said, these foods should be considered just that; treats. Of course this is easier if you implement proper eating habits right from the start, but this cycle can also be broken later on if necessary when your whole family is trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The rate of young children developing obesity and Type II Diabetes as a result is astonishing. Sugar addictions start at a young age, and only you as a parent can help break this cycle. Here are some ways to help your kids get on board and learn healthier habits to become healthy adults.
Prepare meals together. When kids become engaged in the process and learn kitchen skills, it makes it more fun rather than you just saying, “here’s what’s for dinner, eat it.” Give them some options on what they’d like to prepare, but make sure they choose a vegetable, a lean protein and healthy carb. Empowering them to make choices will make them more willing to eat their veggies. Even if it’s a homemade pizza, you can make it with fresh ingredients, and load on veggies! It also gives you quality time as a family which is so important for all of you.
Grow a vegetable garden. How fun is it to just go to your garden and pick your own food? Even as an adult I find so much joy in this. If your child is involved from the beginning with planting the seeds, watering and tending to the garden, they will have a stake in the outcome and want to eat the veggies they’ve grown! It also teaches them responsibility as it pertains to taking care of a living thing.
Ditch the soda. This is probably the worst thing your child (or anyone) can have. One can has 2 days worth of sugar and can lead to obesity, cavities, Irregular insulin levels (diabetes) and caffeine dependency. Instead, make water their main beverage. You can buy a defuser and add fruits and veggies to it to add some flavor (strawberries, cucumbers, lemon, etc). Unsweetened ice tea is also great because of the healthy antioxidants. Again, if you don’t buy it, your child can’t have it (at home at least). Make it an occasional treat for holidays if absolutely necessary.
Make your food fun! For little kids especially, this is a biggie. Making food into fun shapes and using bright, fun colors makes it easier for kids to get on board. Spiralizing noodles instead of using pasta is a great way to do this. You can use zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, etc. You can also use fun shaped cookie cutters to slice up certain fruits and veggies, or arrange them in a fun pattern on their plate.
Sometimes, you just have to be sneaky. There are easy ways to slip healthy foods into meals without kids even realizing it. A good example are smoothies. You can add in spinach, kale, and other amazing leafy greens without them realizing if they are blended with a sweeter fruit. Sauces can also have pureed veggies added in without recognition. Hey, sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do! 😉
Apply logic. Yes, this can actually work! Particularly with older kids who are athletes, explaining to them that they will achieve greater success with the proper fuel may get them to change their tune. Kids are much more competitive these days, and a proper diet will give them the edge they need to be the best. Your calories are units of energy. Put sludge in the tank and the car won’t run. Same concept.
Healthy habits start at home; healthy kids become healthy adults. You can’t tell your kids they need to eat a healthy breakfast and then they see you eating a doughnut. Parents must lead by example. If not for your own health, do it for your kids. I hope these tips help, and please let me know if you need help getting your family on board or have any questions.
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