Did you know that children who learn to eat healthy early in life are more likely to continue good eating habits as they get older?
I’ve had friends who didn’t bother to try and feed their child anything beyond standard kid-fare because to them it was a losing battle they didn’t have the energy to fight. If this is you, you’re not alone.
One way to get your son excited about eating healthy is to involve him in the cooking process. Even at a young age, there are plenty of opportunities to help without making more of work than help for mom.
- Get them involved in cooking healthy meals – for example, have them help you shop for the ingredients at the grocery store. This can also be a good opportunity to teach them about food labels and the food groups. Kids will enjoy helping you plan meals that include all of the food groups and they will love that you are welcoming their input. Also, this allows them to pick out healthy foods that they like, which will ensure that they eat them. They can also help you in the kitchen – give them age appropriate tasks that make them feel included in the preparation of the meal. Kids will be more likely to try a new food or dish if they’ve helped you prepare it.
- Explain to your son the benefits of eating healthy food – depending on the child’s age, your explanation will vary, but the basic concept that you want to get across is that the healthier food they eat, the healthier their bodies will be. For a child who plays a sport, this might be even more relevant – they may be more willing to eat more wholesome foods if they understand that this will help them to do better in soccer/hockey/baseball etc.
- Make healthy eating a contest – for example, see who can build the best “monster” or house out of healthy ingredients like celery, peanut butter, crackers, etc. Kids will naturally want to compete and eat healthy snacks.
- Give children a specific day of each week where they can pick out what the snack will be.
- Plant a vegetable garden with your kids – again, getting them involved in growing the vegetables will make them more inclined to eat them and also potentially get them to try new things.
- Give children healthy foods in fun shapes – use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches or arrange fruits and vegetables in fun ways on their plate.
- Have children help you make smoothies – they are a delicious way to get fruit, yogurt, juice, or even vegetables into their diets. Try to limit the amount of sugar as much as you can by using plain yogurt or juice with no added sugar. If you use plain yogurt and fruit and need to add a little sweetness, use honey.
- Tell them that if they want to become a super hero, they need to go through super hero training and that all super heroes are required to eat veggies as part of their training. Green vegetables give you extra points to earn you extra super powers.
Expert Mommy, Renee Martinez