There is much discussion revolving around the diet and health of children in America. A balanced diet of plenty of vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy foods is recommended, but how do we get children to eat them?
Although adults do forget that children must be taught to share, toilet train, manners and how to do other basic life skills, it is often forgotten that children have to be taught how to eat healthy. Also, it would be easy to believe that eating and eating healthy should be natural. Any mother that has struggled to breastfeed an infant can attest that eating often does not occur naturally. Babies must be taught how to latch and develop muscles to draw out a mother’s milk. Why do we assume that toddlers or children no longer require instruction?
So how do we get our gets to eat healthy?
First: We must start with ourselves. Are we eating a healthy well balanced diet? We cannot teach what we do not know, and it is hard to follow rules that are not applicable to a child’s authority figures. Are we saying no to a second dessert because we understand that sugar is also bad for our bodies?
Second: Have discussions about food. Explain why they should try the carrot on their plate. Explain the health benefits and why you have chosen to eat it yourself.
Third: When a child request to eat yet another unhealthy choice within a short time span, discuss a healthier alternative option and remind children of the foods they have already consumed.
Fourth: When serving children foods they do not recognize, do not fear food waste. Instead offer small portions with an expectation that they must take a bite. Example, offering one asparagus spear on will not break your grocery budget, and your children might just surprise you and eat it. Children will not eat anything other than typical kid’s menu foods if they are not encouraged to broaden their taste pallet.
Fifth: Anytime a new food is introduced, make sure to offer a side item they do recognize like sliced apples, or applesauce so they are not overwhelmed with the new food.
Sixth: Praise them for trying new foods.
Seventh: Encourage them to help prepare food. Understanding food, how its grown, where it comes from and what it does for our bodies is helpful for anyone to understand the need to make healthier choices.
Eighth: Still allow some splurges.
Ninth: Do not make separate meals. Make one meal. Again, offer one side item they recognize, but only serve them what the adults plan to eat.
Writer Bio: Summer Bolte
I spend most of my time and days with my three kids, husband and dog. My kids frequently play near me as I garden, cook, DIY and volunteer. My most unusual paying job has to be feeding fruit flies in a research lab, and my most fulfilling job was being an oncology nurse for seven years.