8 Tips for Getting Your Kids to Eat Healthy

Photo Credie: Daniel Holland

I get emails quite often from moms who are trying to feed their picky eaters a healthier diet. This topic is something that is near and dear to my heart. As blogged about before (here, here, and here), my journey to health began mostly because I had a "sick" kid. I adamantly resolved to find the answers to get my little boy healthy again. After hours of research and stack fulls of books from the library, I feel God gave me some great answers... mostly through a clean environment, clean food and good supplements.

I am passionate about helping people and especially kids eat healthy diets. Just today while on a field trip with my son and about 6,000 other elementary kids from around our city, I got a peek into what foods parents are feeding their kids... and to be honest, it was pretty gross. Something really needs to be done and maybe the handful of people that read my blog can help start that movement toward feeding our own kids a healthier diet.

(I'm not perfect. My kids want Doritos and other unhealthy goodies that are
marketed to kids just like any kid does. Sometimes I have
given in. So don't assume I'm perfect 100% of the time. But the majority
of the time, we really try and eat clean at home.)

So if you have a child that is picky... or one that eats mostly junk or getting healthy foods in them is a challenge, here are a few bits of advice.

1. Go easy on 'em... please. Nothing will un-motivate a child like a tyrant-like parent, pushing them to eat foods that they are not use to. Be positive. Smile when you are introducing new foods. If they aren't interested the first few times, don't give up and don't let them know if you're frustrated.

2. Practice patience. Introduce new healthy foods one at a time. It will take some time... usually a lot of time. Be patient, and again, don't give up.

3. Make it a fun, new adventure for them. My kids love to pick out a fruit or veggie of their own. Take them shopping with you. Give them their own basket or cart and let them fill it up with things they would like to try or what they know they like. Trust me, this works!

4. Turn on the food charm. Eating clean and healthy does not equate with being bland and yucky. Seriously. Steam broccoli just at the peak of softness, add a tad of olive oil or butter and a little salt. Put it in a cute kid bowl. Just don't make it look boring. This goes a long way with kids.

5. Lead by example!! This is most important. If they see you eating what you are serving, they know it's safe and good. Talk about the flavors, how you cooked it, where it came from, etc... basically talk about what you are eating. Kids will not just magically eat healthy when they don't see you eating it as well.

6. Be upfront with what certain foods do in the body. I tell my kids all the time about the food they are eating. "Those black beans have tons of fiber and protein that will make your belly feel good and give you a lot of energy". Or sometimes it may go this way, "That pop has a ton of sugar which isn't good for your teeth and can make you feel lousy later". Some may think this isn't right, but I want my kids to know what they eat and how it directly affects how they feel and their overall health. When given this information, children really do process it and over time it begins to stick!

7. Don't throw in the towel. It will take time, this adventure. There will be days you want to throw in the towel, but I encourage you to stay strong. For the health of your kids, if anything. To me, that's so important. I want my boys to grow up healthy and strong. Not sick and tired and depressed. I want the best for them in every way possible.

8. Start early. If you are reading this and have little ones, infants and toddlers, please start now on a healthy journey. Don't wait until they are school age, it gets too hard then. They can still change, but introducing the healthiest foods when they are little will only help to guarantee they will prefer those over unhealthy choices later.

Here are some resources that have helped me.

Deceitfully Delicious. Great book on deceitfully adding colorful veggies to everday dishes ~ your kids will never know!

The Sneaky Chef. Over 75 recipes that ingeniously disguise the most important superfoods inside kids’ favorite meals.

Healthy Cooking for Your Kids. Beautifully illustrated and easy to make meals your kids will love.

The Cleaner Plate Club. Offers a friendly, non-judgmental, and often humorous guide to feeding kids seasonally, healthfully, and without fuss.

Enjoy this journey. Once you get over those initial hurdles, it really begins to get fun.
Keep visiting this blog for kid-approved recipes and know there is always
encouragement here for you!

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