Mealtime: It has become your least favorite time of day. You know how important it is for your kids to develop good eating habits, not only for their growing bodies now, but for their future health as well. What you need are some healthy eating tips that work, mama!
You try to get them to eat their veggies. You’ve tried it all, coercion, threatening, timeouts. Nothing has worked. Finally, you give up and just give them the nuggets, pizza, or mac and cheese. At least they’re eating something, right?
You’re not alone in these struggles so don’t be too hard on yourself. All you need is a few healthy eating tips that will help get your kids on the road to good eating habits. Don’t worry if your child has never eaten healthy before, or you think you did the wrong thing when they were younger. Follow these healthy eating tips and you will start to see results! Let’s learn how to eat healthy food every day, shall we?
Table of Contents
Here Come The Healthy Eating Tips!
Tip 1: Recognize this is a marathon, not a sprint.
What does this mean? Well, don’t think you have to get your child to eat a whole variety of foods in the next week or even month. We are trying to share healthy eating tips and good eating habits that will last a lifetime and it’s going to take time! Don’t think your kids are going to start eating so many new foods at once. This is a process. They may need to be exposed to a food 20-30 times before they’ll try it. Then it may take a few more times before they like it.
So for parents, consistency is key. Try not to get frustrated or annoyed; that will only make them less likely to try the food. So, even if you feel you’re not making progress with your efforts, don’t give up because you will see the benefits eventually!
Tip 2: Be a role model.
Do you want healthy eating tips to help your kids to eat more veggies? Fish? Meat? Salad? Eggs? Are you eating these foods in front of them? If not, then start to! Let your kids see you eating and enjoying healthy foods. You don’t have to lecture or nag them; just let them see you enjoying eating healthy. Eventually, they will want to copy you.
Lecturing or nagging turns kids off and makes them want to do the opposite of what you’re trying to get them to do. So try not to say things like, “Look how I eat all my fruits and vegetables. Why don’t you try it?” or “Look how your brother/sister eats all their dinner…” or “You need to eat your meat and veggies because they are healthy.” These well-meaning phrases tend to turn our kids off and do not inspire cooperation.
Instead, turn to our healthy eating tips like presenting the food in a positive way. For younger toddlers, it’s a good idea to make a game or a song out of it. Sing the song in a happy tone and with a smile! This will invite cooperation and make it more likely that they will at least try the food.
Tip 3: Don’t turn eating into a power struggle.
Our kids realize that they have little control over their lives. We tell them where to go, when to go there, what to wear, when to bathe when to go to sleep etc. It is human nature to want to have some power or control over our own lives.
That’s why healthy eating tips like giving your kids choices in age-appropriate ways are important. If we don’t give our kids some power, they will quickly realize they can get power when it comes to food. Our kids know that we want them to eat certain foods, however, we can’t force them to do so. They then refuse to eat as a way of gaining power and control. We need to take the power struggle out of eating by A) giving them power in other areas that we are comfortable with, and B) taking our emotions out of mealtimes.
What does this mean? This means we decide what we are going to serve and how much, our kids decide whether or not they will eat it.
Try to have a cavalier attitude about it. Try healthy eating tips like placing the food on the table and enjoying eating your food. Let them decide what they will eat from what you are serving, but make sure you are ok with them eating what you are making available. If you don’t want them eating too much pasta or rice, then only serve a small amount and let them know they can have more after they have eaten the protein and veggies (or at least tried them).
READ MORE: Quick, Prepare Ahead Family Meals
Tip 4: Let your kids help in the kitchen.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating. One of the best healthy eating tips is to get your kids involved with you in the kitchen! This works for several reasons.
- One, they are more likely to want to eat the food if they have a part in making it.
- Two, if you’re preparing veggies to cook, they may want to try them while you’re cleaning and chopping them. They may discover that they like the veggie raw, which is an easy way to serve them. No need for complicated recipes!
- Three, spending quality time with your kids in the kitchen strengthens the bond you share and makes them more likely to want to cooperate with you.
So when you say “Let’s try this broccoli,” they may just say, “Ok, Mommy!”
Tip 5: Set a meal schedule.
Take a look around your local playground. How many toddlers are walking around with a bag of goldfish? Why do we think 2-year-olds need constant snacks? Besides the unhealthy aspect of what they are snacking on, we are teaching so many bad habits instead of healthy eating tips with this behavior. By snacking all day, they are not really hungry at mealtimes.
A hungry kid will be more willing to try healthy foods than a kid who is not hungry. Next healthy eating tip: Let your kids get hungry by serving meals and snacks at scheduled times and nothing in between. If your child is hungry in between meal and snack time, you simply say, “We have a snack coming up in 20 minutes honey.” Now, at these meal and snack times, YOU are going to decide what is served. You can give them choices about what they are going to eat as long as you are ok with both choices.
If you don’t want them to have access to the junk, either get it out of the house or hide it somewhere and only take it out when you want them to have a treat. Try to work with your child and include some healthy foods that you know they like alongside the new foods you want them to try. Remember, we want to introduce healthy foods in a positive way, so including familiar foods will make mealtimes less of a struggle.
As you can see, most of these healthy eating tips involve controlling our attitudes and behaviors as parents as opposed to trying to coerce, lecture, or demand our kids eat what we want. This may not be an easy road. Your kids will push back and test the limits and boundaries you are trying to implement. It is imperative that you stay calm and consistent. Do not give in if they are screaming for junk. Just stay calm and empathize but do not give in to what they are demanding.
Our kids want these boundaries but it’s their job to push those boundaries and test us to see if we’re really serious. These healthy eating tips and boundaries help them feel safe and secure, so be persistent and when the tantrum subsides, you may just get lots of hugs, kisses, and a child who is happy to comply. So stay strong with the help of these healthy eating tips and think of the hugs while they are throwing their fit.
Remember, we are trying to teach lifelong healthy eating tips and habits that will stick with them into adulthood. The goal is to get them to learn to love a wide variety of foods and eventually choose those foods on their own one day. Not only because the food is healthy, but because they truly enjoy the healthy foods. One day they will thank you for teaching them such good eating habits in a positive, loving way!
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