If you have a picky eater at home, you know how tough it is to get them to eat right. While big changes probably won’t happen overnight, there are positive ways to change your family’s lifestyle that will encourage your kids to enjoy healthier food options. Try these five tips to help your kids eat right!
1. Shop, cook, and eat together
You can start teaching your children about making healthy eating decisions by including them in the process from start to finish. Skip the carryout or fast food and opt for home-cooked meals instead. Trips to the grocery store and time spent in the kitchen are good opportunities to start conversations about nutrition, portion sizes, and healthy decision-making when it comes to eating, plus you’ll spend quality time together that will help your kids eat right and associate healthy, hearty meals with spending treasured time with loved ones.
2. Keep healthy snacks on hand
The best way to ensure your kids are eating well when you’re not monitoring their meals is by having healthy options available for grazing. Instead of sugary, processed foods that come in colorful packages, opt for baked chips, yogurt, berries, crunchy veggies, or granola bars. They’ll be just as satisfied.
3. Grow your own food
There’s no food quite as fresh and delicious as the food you’ve grown yourself, and if you have a picky eater, they probably won’t be able to resist enjoying the fruits, veggies, and herbs they’ve helped grow right in your own garden. You and your children alike will pick up some new skills and possibly even a new passion. And most importantly, they’ll see a direct correlation between growing fresh food and living a healthy lifestyle.
4. Be a good eating role model
Your children learn everything from you, and not just the things you tell them, but the things you demonstrate to them every day. So show them how to eat right and enjoy a variety of healthy foods yourself. A few simple lifestyle changes—like not skipping breakfast, snacking on fruits and nuts, and cooking with fresh, locally grown ingredients—will make more of an impression in the long run than simply encouraging your kids to eat right.
5. Don’t use food as a bribe or reward
Part of having a positive attitude toward food is not tying it to your personal worth or accomplishments. Eating well is its own reward, but using sugary sweets as bribes can undermine that mindset. (Think promising your kid an ice cream cone if they do their homework!) Likewise, banning foods like sugary snacks can make kids jump to certain conclusions about food and self-image, or even want that forbidden soda more than before. Instead, use non-food items or experiences as rewards and stock up on options you want for your kids without putting an unnecessary ban on other options to help your kids eat right.
If you have any questions about nutrition and healthy eating for your kids, talking to your Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups specialist.