What do you do when your kids only want to eat sweets and throw tantrums at the sight of vegetables? Here’s a guide to getting them interested in healthy foods.
- Get them cooking
Not only are they learning a neat skill that will serve them well and help them to be more creative, but also, having been a part of the preparation process often makes them want to try whatever you’ve cooked together.
- Creativity sells
Try making things in different forms. If your child turns his nose up at the sight of sweet potato, try serving it mashed or as sweet potato fries! Or if cucumbers don’t appeal, something as simple as sprinkling a little salt on them or serving them with a dip can be a gamechanger.
- Use the 80/20 rule
If your kids are old enough to understand something like this, tell them that if they choose to eat nutritious food 80 percent of the time, the other 20 can be for sweets and junk food. This way, they know indulging yourself in moderation is okay as long as you regularly make healthy choices.
Avoid food rewards
If you begin rewarding good grades or a well-behaved child with a cookie or treat, they begin to associate food with praise or emotions rather than hunger. Better to reward them with words of affirmation and a hug!
- Tune in to hunger
You never want your kid to go hungry, but more often than not, when they say they’re hungry, it’s because they’re bored or they just want some junk food. Learn to differentiate between true hunger and boredom and find other ways to deal with the latter!
- Don’t trick them
Hey, it seems like a great, non-confrontational idea, right? If some spinach is blended into their food, they’ll never know! However, they aren’t actually learning to eat healthy, and this is crucial for lifelong healthy eating.
- Serve family style
Rather than portioning it out for everyone and serving plates to the table, have everything on the table for everyone to serve themselves. Let your children serve themselves, and over time, they’ll learn how much to take.
- Don’t put dessert on a pedestal
We do this so often, but using dessert as an incentive isn’t helpful long-term. If they get cake for eating their broccoli, they then assume that broccoli is bad and cake is good.
- Differentiate between snacks and treats
Snacks are meant to be mini-meals that include nutritious things like fruits, whole grains, and nuts to keep them going throughout out the day while treats are something maybe not so nutritious that you save for special occasions.
- Model proper eating habits
If you’re sneaking junk food all the time while telling your kids to make wise nutrition choices, you’ll be sending a confusing message! Make sure they see you eating your proteins and vegetables, eating balanced meals, and enjoying a treat on special occasions too!