Children develop a natural inclination for only the foods they like the most, so the challenge becomes to make healthy choices more appealing. Of course, no matter how good your intentions are, it’s always going to be tricky to manipulate and prove to a kid that an apple is better than a cookie. However, it can be ensured that the diet includes most nutritional stuffs, including some of the favorites too.
Tips to promote healthy eating:
- Having regular family meals helps. Knowing that dinner is served at roughly the same time every night and that the whole family will be meeting and sitting together is very comforting and enhances appetite. Another great time for a healthy family meal is breakfast, particularly for kids who eat healthy breakfast tend to perform better in school.
- Cooking more meals at home helps in inculcating a good habit in the child. Eating mostly at home sets a great example for kids about the significance of food and is healthy too. Restaurant meals are mostly unhealthy. Save dining out for only special occasions. Kids should get involved, to draw their interest. Children enjoy helping with shopping for groceries, in selecting what are packed in their lunch box, and also in preparing dinner. This serves as a good chance to categorize healthy and unhealthy foods and even teach kids (a little older) to read labels about nutritional facts.
- Make an assortment of healthy snacks accessible instead of just empty calorie snacks. Plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (like water, milk, pure fruit juice) should be kept around so kids become used to having only healthy snacks accessible instead of empty calorie snacks like soda, or chips, or cookies.
- Only one new food should be presented to a child at a time. Otherwise the child would get used to getting bored with one food easily and would demand more and more type of food each time. Serve new foods with favorite foods to increase acceptance. Eat the new and healthy foods yourself; children love imitating.
Here are some creative ways to put more fruit and vegetables to the child’s diet:
- Top a bowl of whole grain cereal with a nice smiley face: banana slices for eyes maybe, including raisins for nose, and maybe a peach or apple slice for the mouth.
- You can create a food collage: You can use broccoli florets for making trees, then cutting out carrots and celery for flowers, and including cauliflower for clouds, and lastly a yellow squash for a sun. The masterpiece can then be enjoyed.
- You can make frozen fruit kabobs for kids by using pineapple chunks, and sometimes bananas, grapes, and berries.
- Go foods-shopping with the children. Let them witness the availability of all the different colored fruits and vegetables and allow them to pick out new ones to have a try.
- Try fruit smoothies instead of boring cereals for a quick healthy breakfast and even for a afternoon snack.
- Add vegetables and also fruits to the baked goods like blueberry pancakes, zucchini bread, or carrot muffins.
- Add extra amounts of veggies to soups, and stews, and sauces, those may be grated or shredded, to help them blend in.
- Keep lots of fresh fruits and vegetables carefully washed and available as snacks. Apples, pears, bananas, grapes, figs, carrot and celery sticks are all easy to eat on the run. Add yoghurt, or nut butter, or even tahini for extra protein inclusion
- Limit sugar and salt. This is very difficult considering sugar and salt are used more commonly than anything else. But replacing sugar with honey helps.