5 Ways to Help Kids Happily Eat Better

5 Ways to Help Kids Happily Eat Better

On the list of family goals, “getting my kids to eat better” always makes the top 10. As a dietitian, I know exactly what my kids should be eating, but that doesn’t mean those health choices make it to the table every time. Between personal preferences, time constraints, and just plain exhaustion, a few unfortunate choices have shown up (I’m looking at you hot dogs and cheese puffs). But as with every part of our lives, we can always improve.

There’s always another day to add in a few more healthy choices.

If you need a boost, here are 5 tips to help your kids get the nutrition they need and be happy about it.

1. Get your kids involved!

There are tons of ways to get your kids making healthy decisions. Not only will it help them to feel invested now (and hopefully enjoy making healthy changes), it will also provide them with positive experiences that will help them live a healthy future. Here are a few ideas to get your kids involved:

  • Let them plan a meal or choose the side dish.
  • Give them a task during meal prep. Even the littlest of helpers can find satisfaction from helping out.
  • Let them pick one new fruit and/or vegetable from the market that you can all try together.

2. Pick a few things to work on together.

Does your family need to work on drinking more water? How about eating more fruits and vegetables? The idea is to focus on a few simple changes at a time.

It’s easier to set a few specific goals than it is to change all of your habits at once. This might mean including a fruit or a vegetable at each snack time. Or maybe you could make the switch to whole grain pasta. Lots of little changes add up to big improvement over time.

3. Set boundaries.

Getting kids involved doesn’t mean they’re running the show.

As the parent you need to set specific meal and snack times. At my house, the kitchen is “closed”when it’s not snack or meal time. My kids know that they just will have to wait until it’s time to eat. When kids are not constantly grazing, they end up actually hungry at the next meal time. Kids are more likely to try new foods when they are hungry. And really, doesn’t all food taste better when we’re hungry?! A few healthy limits will go a long way when helping our kids to eat better.

4. Make it fun!

We can’t talk about helping our kids be happy about change without making it enjoyable. A little food art or a fun snack recipe can help some of our more resistant children get on board. Here are a few other ideas to get kids excited about making healthy changes:

  • Have a taste test party. Grab a variety of new fruits and veggies. You can make it as simple or complicated as you like; from different tasting stations to decorations to theme music. Get creative!
  • Eat on a theme. Let your kids come up with a theme and then find new recipes to try together. Italian night, space food, green night. The possibilities are endless!

    5. Keep it up.

    Don’t give up after the first “ew”or upturned nose. Kids need a little time to get used to new foods and change. It takes persistence and patience, but with time those little ones will be happy about healthy foods and how great their little bodies feel. Be consistent with the limits you’ve set. And plan out meals and snacks to help you stick to your schedule.

    So whether you are just getting started on your healthy journey or you know all the ins and outs, we all have room for improvement. Get your kids involved and have some fun, all while setting clear boundaries and having patience. All those little changes will add up to some pretty happy, healthy kids!

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