5 Tips to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Foods

Oatmeal breakfast cereal with berriesAs anyone with a fussy eater knows, getting our kids to eat the right foods can be difficult at best. But developing healthy eating habits at an early age is extremely important. Proper eating habits help kids maintain a healthy weight and normal growth, and it lays the foundation for healthy habits as an adult (WebMd). So what do you do when all the bribes and threats and pleas simply don’t work? Here are 5 ideas:

1) Set A Schedule

According to Parents Magazine, kids need to eat every 3 to 4 hours (“15 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Better” by Julie Burns, R.D). Ms. Burns suggests 3 meals and 2 snacks at regular times. This keeps the kids from getting cranky. She also finds that carrying a cooler with healthy snacks and water when in the car helps avoid the need for fast food.

2) Cook One Meal

Don’t cook 2 separate meals (one for the kids and one for the adults). Ms. Burns feels that over time the kids will start to copy the parents, and eat what they’re eating. Model healthy eating habits.

3) Get Everyone Involved

Involve the kids in the cooking process, as much as possible. I taught Family & Consumer Science to 7th & 8th graders for a couple of years. It’s amazing how much more likely kids are to try something new when they were involved in the decision of what to eat, and the preparation. (It’s also a great opportunity to teach a little about how to read labels, follow directions, etc.). And a lot of the fond memories my students shared were of those spent in the kitchen with mom or grandma.

4) Make Dinner Time Special

Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes (“10 Ways to Get Kids to Eat Healthier” suggest making dinner time special. Every once in a while let the kids set the table with a tablecloth, good glassware, etc. And be sure the kids eat sitting down at a table. Encourage “family” time at dinner time.

5) Avoid Food As Rewards

Ms. Cooper and Ms. Holmes also recommend that food not be used as punishments, rewards, or bribes, and not punishing kids for not eating certain foods. These can not only cause problems between the parent & child, but may set the stage for a less than healthy relationship with certain foods as the child gets older.

Written by: Tricia Doane, FizzNiche Staff Writer

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