If you live in the US, you have so many unique opportunities. You have all the information, all the resources, and all the nutrition you could possibly need for your child. However, the truth is that 56% of American children are eating diets with poor nutritional value. That’s a clear majority!
It’s so important that your children eat healthy diets, as this will only help them grow and develop better. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be too hard. Let’s talk about some steps you can take to improve eating habits of children!
#1. Improve Eating Habits With Exercise
If you want to see a child who loves to eat, make sure they’re moving! Getting some movement is well-known to increase your appetite, which is especially good for picky eaters! Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand!
If you made a new meal that you anticipate a struggle to have your child try, get them to play a sport or a game that involves a lot of running beforehand, and let them build up an appetite. Not only will this make them ready to eat, but it will balance out their hormones and neurotransmitters, which will improve their mood. This makes them more open to trying new things and less likely to be combative over trying a new meal.
#2. Make Food Taste Good
This may sound ridiculous but bear with us. The proper seasonings will make anything taste good. Of course, cake and ice cream will always taste good, but if your children learn to experience different flavors, they will learn to enjoy them.
You could find out the seasonings your children love pretty quickly! If they don’t like spice, stay away from curries or hot sauces. If they love the addition of hot and cold, try doing burritos or tacos with lettuce and salsas inside! Figure out their tastes and work with them!
#3. Try New Recipes
One of the best things you can do as a parent is introducing your children to new foods. Picky eaters will eventually come around, especially if they wind up loving them when they try these new foods! If you consistently make healthy foods that taste good, they’ll catch on!
Try recipes from different cultures, try to replicate a healthy version of their favorite takeout, or try something completely new to you! In the age of the internet, there’s no shortage of healthy recipes at your disposal. Check out New Healthy Family for some ideas to try out!
If your child is really picky, make sure you try the food first, and see if you and the family can convince them to give it a shot. Don’t press too hard, as it may only make it worse.
#4. Ween Out Unhealthy Foods
If you’ve been feeding your children the classic frozen chicken nuggets and french fries regularly, they may love them. However, their growing bodies really do need more nutrition than this.
Because of this, it may be best to take these kinds of meals out of the regular routine. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with pizza every once in a while, or some kind of “cheat meal”, but for the majority of meals, there should be more nutritional value.
#5. Taste The Rainbow
No, candy isn’t a meal! However, the amount of color on the plate is the number one trick to determine how nutritious a meal is. If you look at a plate with all white on it, you won’t be getting much nutrition from it. Something like a white potato, white chicken, a white vegetable.
Colors are good indicators of the micronutrients they offer, and you don’t even need to know what they are to get the most out of them. Simply focusing on getting a wide variety of color is important. Dark, leafy greens like spinach are the most important.
What’s the easiest way to add a wide variety of nutrients to a meal? A salad. You can throw so many different things into a salad, and it can be served as a side dish, appetizer, or the main course! Spinach, lettuce, tomato, bell peppers, onions, seeds, whole wheat croutons, olive oil, dried fruit, and so much more can all be added to one salad. You can even prep your salads in advance and serve them with meals throughout the week!
#6. Don’t Forget Snacks
Snacks may be a large portion or even the majority of what your children eat at school or at home. This means they can’t be neglected. If you buy a lot of unhealthy snacks but make them healthy meals, you’re wasting opportunities.
There are plenty of delicious snacks that don’t have to be too unhealthy. Popcorn with a little bit of coconut oil and seasoning is delicious! Fruit, trail mix, and granola are great options for snackers!
There are also healthier alternatives to most snacks. Remember, don’t bother with “reduced fat” products. When they reduce the fat, they simply replace it with sugar, which many studies believe to be worse for your health.
However, making small switches like whole grain Goldfish or Cheez Its instead of the enriched kind. If you are mindful and take a lot of small steps toward healthier snacks for kids, they add up!
#7. Enjoy Your Meals Together
Now that you know how to help your children improve eating habits, don’t make them do it alone! Eating together is the staple of family bonding time, so make sure you’re eating and enjoying your meals as a family! Keep up to date with our latest health news and enjoy your new lifestyle!