A common question that I get from my clients is – how can I get my kids to eat healthy? This is something that many parents seem to struggle with. If you missed our previous blog post on the importance of this topic, you can read it here: https://imuaortho.com/blog/fighting-childhood-obesity/.
At IMUA, our philosophy is that healthy eating can, and should be, a sustainable part of your life, and that you don’t need to spend countless hours a day in the kitchen to make healthy eating a part of your lifestyle. If you’re cooking a separate meal for your kids -which many of my clients initially do – then you’re making your life harder than it needs to be! Today, we want to share seven practical tips to help you get your children to enjoy all the beneficial fruits of a healthful diet.
- Get your kids to help out. This is my favorite tip because you receive a double benefit – 1. You receive help in the kitchen 2. Your kids are more likely to make healthy choices. When kids are involved in the creation of their meal, they are much more likely to eat it, without complaint. When they get their hands dirty with some organic kale or they watch the juiciness of a plump red tomato explode as it’s cut (or crushed, if we’re too young for cutting) it engages all their senses and their involvement will make them feel more connected to their meal and where it came from. Of course, their task will depend on their age – if your child is still too young to cut vegetables, they can help you set the table, or pick herbs from the garden, or accompany you to the local farmers market, where they can meet the farmer who grew their food.
- Most kids love fruit. Give them fruit instead of candy. Don’t use candy as a reward for good behavior; instead, get them to pick out their favorite fruit. Make sure that you have their choice readily available! If you want to stick to what’s in season, you can give them a list of all the seasonal fruits and have them chose their favorite. This is a great way to teach them about the seasons and how to eat fruits that are local and in season.
- Parents often struggle to get their kids to eat vegetables. A good starting point is to camouflage vegetables, in the meals which your kids already enjoy eating. For example, if they love pasta – finely chop some extra veggies into the pasta sauce – you can use zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, grated carrot – if you cut it finely enough and cook it down with the pasta sauce they might not even notice.
- Or you can camouflage them even more by blending all the veggies into a soup. Creamy butternut is great (I’ll post a healthy version soon) or creamy broccoli: https://imuaortho.com/blog/creative-cooking-meets-creamy-broccoli-soup/.
- You can also bargain with your kids – they are allowed to remove only one vegetable from the meal. For example, if the meal included a big salad with red leaf lettuce, carrots, cucumber, green onion, tomato and avocado then the rule of thumb is that they must eat it all. But, if they really must, then they may remove one vegetable.
- You could make the vegetables extra tasty, using this wholesome white sauce: https://imuaortho.com/blog/bechamel-sauce-a-gloriously-gluten-free-version/. If you’re not able to make a sauce from scratch, you can also look around at your local health store for some wholesome sauces to use.
- My final suggestion is to make your dinner time a special time – a time when the family sits together, talks about their day, and shares gratitude for each other, for their health, for the nourishing foods that were prepared and for the people who grew and prepared the food. If you followed tip no.1 and you extend thanks to your little helper at the dinner table, it’ll make them feel extra special and excited to help again. It might not be possible to have a family dinner every night, but make it a priority wherever possible – it’s good for your body, your health and your family.
I hope that you have enjoyed these seven surprisingly simple tips to get your kids to eat healthy. If you want extra guidance with your transition to a healthier lifestyle please send me an e-mail at email@example.com to schedule a free consultation. Thank you and have a great day!