You’ve changed your habits, embraced a healthier lifestyle and you feel great. Congratulations on your new life! You’ve accomplished an amazing goal and now you want to share this feeling with the world—including your family. Oftentimes, kids are very particular about their eating habits. Peanut butter, extra jelly, crusts cut off. Maybe your child refuses to eat anything besides hot dogs and boxed macaroni and cheese.
Though it may seem like he or she would never entertain the idea of eating spinach, kale or tomatoes—don’t give up! Introducing your children to healthy eating may be easier than you think. Kids are constantly changing everything, from their habits, style and interests to their tastes. Behaviors they learn early on eventually become their habits. What your children eat at home will carry with them into adulthood. So let’s teach them the healthy practices they need!
Be a Role Model
The easiest way to help your children embrace healthy eating is to be a role model for them to follow. If you enjoy cooking and eating nutritious meals and snacks, your kids probably won’t think eating fresh, delicious foods is out of the ordinary. Take your kids shopping with you, show them the foods you like and allow them to pick a few of their own. Be their personal healthy-eating guide!
Be Patient When Introducing New Foods
Kids can be picky eaters, but don’t let this deter you! Though they may not like brussels sprouts on the first introduction, introduce new foods over time can create opportunity for variety. Soon snow peas, sweet peppers, asparagus and zucchini will become their staples. Don’t expect your child to like everything on the first try, but offering them the option and making it sound like an adventure will give them the impression that eating is exciting, not a punishment! Keep trying, research shows it sometimes takes more than ten attempts before a child will try a new food.
Don’t Be a Short-Order Cook
Ever find yourself cooking a completely different meal choice each night for your kids? Perhaps you’re eating grilled chicken and asparagus salad while they get chicken nuggets and a fruit cup. By cooking the foods they already like, you aren’t giving your children the chance to warm up to new things. Let your children know that you will only cook one meal each night and they are welcome to suggest healthy foods to incorporate. Then be patient! It may take a week or two, but they may surprise you when they finally try a bite of broccoli.
Get Kids Cooking
What’s cuter than a tiny sous chef washing vegetables and asking to help season the chicken? Having your children help cook dinner is a great way to expose them to new foods and the process of preparing food as well as a wonderful bonding experience for parents and their children. Allowing them to help with the preparing food will instill the idea that healthy cooking can be fun. They will also feel grown-up and responsible when you give them such an important task.
Make Food Fun
Celery, peanut butter and raisins doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as ‘ants on a log.’ A cup of SlimGenics Chocolate Pudding with crushed Chocolate Crunch Soy Puffs Thermo-Snacks® can become a quirky ‘cup of dirt.’ Just by giving your kids’ healthy snacks creative names, you are reinventing them as exciting and fun. Make a smiley face with two over-easy eggs and a slice of cantaloupe or cut shapes into their sandwiches with cookie cutters. You’ll be shocked when your kids don’t just eat healthy foods—they enjoy them!
Get Them Dipping
It’s no secret kids love to dip. If you’re having trouble getting them to eat their vegetables (especially raw ones) try preparing your own healthy sauces and dips to give vegetables extra flavor. Most dressings and dips are packed with sugar and fat, so look for healthier recipes and make your own. Reference your SlimGenics STEP in the Kitchen cookbook for delicious sauce and dip recipes.
Find Time for Breakfast
Mornings can be hectic with getting kids up and ready for school. But don’t allow time constraints keep you from making breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and sending children off with a healthy, satisfying first meal will give them energy throughout the rest of their day. Consider preparing healthy grab-and-go meals like egg muffins or wholesome pancakes the night before and reheat them in the morning. Slice your fruit ahead of time and you’ve got an easy, healthy breakfast for your growing brood!
Don’t give up on your kids’ healthy eating habits. Be patient and get them involved in the whole process, from shopping to preparing. Before you know it, your adventurous eater(s) will be begging you for spinach salads and grilled salmon and snacking on fruits and vegetables instead of chips and candy. Say goodbye to the kid’s menu and hello to healthier, happier children!