Let’s face it: kids are picky eaters. As parents, we all want our children to eat healthy, but … #thestruggleisreal. Right? Getting them to eat their vegetables feels like pulling teeth, and preventing them from inhaling that cupcake at their cousin’s birthday party? Well, you might as well not even try. Or at least that’s what grandma and grandpa are telling you.
“Everything in moderation” is a popular saying these days, especially when it comes to food. But the problem with this saying is that everyone’s definition of “moderation” is different. What may seem moderate to you may be gluttonous to someone else. How do we define “moderation” and make it easy for our kids to consume healthy foods?
Here are 5 strategies to get your children to eat healthier that you can begin implementing at home right away.
1. Make healthier versions of common junk foods.
Substitute store-bought potato chips for homemade kale chips. Replace sugar in their favorite baked sweets with stevia or xylitol. Replace white or wheat flour with gluten-free alternatives like almond or chick-pea flour. Instead of buying ice-cream at the store, make your own dairy-free alternative at home. All you need is a frozen banana, coconut milk, berries, and a blender!
Believe it or not, there is almost always a healthy recipe out there for some of your children’s favorite junk foods. Check out this recipe for avocado chocolate mousse—a much healthier version of the chocolate pudding cups you can buy in grocery stores.
2. Sneak greens into smoothies.
You can mask the taste of kale and spinach easily in a smoothie. All you need is half a banana. You can also add in other fruits like peaches and apples, and even peanut butter. The possibilities are endless. 1-2 scoops of your favorite protein powder and you’ve got a healthy breakfast or mid-afternoon snack they’re sure to love!
3. Avoid eating out as much as possible.
All it takes is one trip to Chick Fil A, and they’re hooked. Trust me, I’ve seen it many, many times among my patients. Finding healthy alternatives to common foods is much harder when you go to a restaurant. Also, you can’t be sure that you’re getting grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and organic fruits and veggies when you eat out. While many restaurants are incorporating more “superfoods” into their menu, it’s much safer to cook your own food at home.
4. Allow the occasional unhealthy treat.
There will be birthday parties and various other celebrations where your children will be enticed by a platter full of store-bought cupcakes. Grandma and Grandpa will want to spoil them with s’mores or candy on occasion. This is all part of being a kid. The good news is, it truly is “moderation” when you know it only happens while they’re visiting friends or relatives. So let them get their fix on occasion. If they are consistently eating healthy meals at home, they may not even have a taste for unhealthy foods anymore, which means the likelihood of them even finishing that cupcake is much smaller anyway.
5. Educate them early on good and bad foods.
Education is key! Take time to teach your children about the foods they’re eating, especially while they’re young. Teaching them early helps instill healthy habits for a lifetime!
Parents, what are some other tricks you use to encourage healthy eating habits in your home? Share them with us in the comment section below!