As if parenting weren’t already complicated…adding a healthy diet into the mix, making sure they are healthy and aren’t stressing over their body image….hey no pressure!
No but all kidding aside…I strongly believe that that habits we instill in our children in the early years will follow them throughout their life and can potentially help prevent lots of health issues down the road.
Here are a few helpful tips for talking to your kids about food and helping them learn healthy eating habits.
Focus on health, not weight
The childhood obesity rate has tripled over the past 40 years, so it makes sense that you might stress about keeping your kids healthy — especially if you’ve struggled with your own weight.
But research suggests that focusing on weight rather than health is more likely to lead to unhealthy dieting habits down the road. So when you’re talking to your kids about nutrition, try to leave weight out of the conversation, and focus on all the ways food can help their brain and body work better.
Let them dictate portion sizes
It may be hard to believe when you just watched your kid dip spaghetti in ketchup or eat a cold hot dog, but kids actually tend to be more intuitive eaters than adults — and they’re good (sometimes annoyingly so) at stopping when they’re full.
If you’re child says they aren’t hungry more often than not they truly aren’t hungry. Instead of forcing them to eat, wait until they let you know.
Don’t label foods “good” or “bad”
The only foods that should be labeled bad are ones that a child is allergic too or something that is spoiled. Nothing else needs to be judged that way.
Sure, you don’t want your toddler to eat three giant pieces of chocolate cake — but instead of telling them sugar is bad for you, explain that some foods help you grow and stay healthy, while others are just fun “sometimes” snacks.
Pro tip: If you’re stumped on how to get your kid to eat healthy snacks, sneak in some nutrition in a shake that taste like a fun snack; Daily Sunshine contains fruits & veggies, plant-based protein, healthy fats, and comes in two kid-approved flavors: chocolate and strawberry banana.
How to Get Your Kids to Try New Foods
Give them options
Skip the begging, bribing, pleading, and “you’re-not-leaving-this-table-until-you-take-a-bite-of-broccoli” warnings. Just put a variety of healthy foods on the table every night and let your kids serve themselves what they want.
When sitting down for dinner, I always like to serve our dinner family style. I put all the food out on the table and let them have options on serving them self. Eventually they will start to try new things like salad and different veggies.
Get them involved
Kids love to get their hands dirty, so let them “play” with their food so that they establish a connection to what they’re eating. I always involve my kids in making dinner and they are more likely to eat it.
Take “no” for an answer
Yep you heard that right— it’s okay to let your kids turn down food. Giving your kids the power to politely say “no, thank you” actually helps them get into the habit of mindful eating and listening to their body’s hunger cues.
I know their picky eating habits can drive you nuts but I promise they won’t be eating those dino shaped nuggets forever!
Don’t reward them with sweets
“No dessert until you finish your green beans! “Even though this strategy can be effective, you’re basically telling your kid yeah, veggies suck — but if you can choke them down, you’ll get the “good” stuff.
Instead praise them for making a “healthy choice”!
And of course remember those little munchkins are ALWAYS watching you! So be the change you want to see in the world!