Many parents have a tough time getting their kids to enjoy healthy eating – most are begging for “food” like chicken nuggets, SpaghettiOs and mac ‘n’ cheese. Those junk foods, according to a report by The Guardian, are causing children to suffer from all types of illnesses and shortened lives across the globe according to experts, with the obesity rate in the U.S. at over 29 percent.
So how do you get your kids to actually love eating healthy?
Get Them Involved
By involving your kids in the planning of meals, preparing foods and grocery shopping – ask them questions like, “should we get pears or apples?” for example, and they’ll be more excited about what they’re eating. You might even consider planting a food garden – if they help plant the seed, and watch that fruit or vegetable grow, they’re much more likely to want to eat it. Going to the source, such as visiting a berry farm and picking berries from the vine can help to nurture a lifetime of healthier eating. The younger they get started, the better.
Provide Healthy, Tasty Snack Choices
How a healthy a person eats is primarily determined by snack choices, with snacking accounting for 50 percent of all eating according to a study by The Hartman Group. If your kids are consuming unhealthy snacks, that’s obviously a big problem, but you can help by providing them with at least a couple of different healthier options. Kids like to make their own choices as it gives them the autonomy they crave, so rather than tell them they can only have grapes or apple slices, for example, give them a choice. Or, even better, create a home snack station. Borrowing from the idea from office snack stations, you might use individually-packaged nutritious snacks placed in an attractive basket or jar to promote portion control, for example.
Make Nutritious Smoothies
It’s easy to make a nutritious smoothie that tastes like a dessert, even one that contains greens, something that many kids are averse to. You don’t have to tell them what’s in it – although if they tell you how delicious it was afterward, you might let them know that it contained those so-called dreaded greens. That might just be enough to encourage them to try eating more vegetables.
Add fruits like pineapples or strawberries with a banana for sweetness that helps to eliminate the bitter taste of greens. You can even make it fancy by pouring it into a special glass to make it look like a dessert. Kids can help create them too – once they discover how tasty smoothies are, allow them to come up with their own concoctions by picking up fruits and veggies at the supermarket, washing them and then tossing them into the blender.
Don’t Forget You’re the Best Example
Kids take their own clues about what’s good to eat from their parents, so be sure that you’re setting a good example by eating healthy yourself.