Keeping children healthy includes a foundation for nutritious eating but is often overlooked as part of their well-being. Studies show that 56% of American children eat meals of low nutritional value that contain too much salt, too many processed foods, and not enough vegetables.
Teaching your little ones about nutrition and encouraging good health takes time and persistence, but it can impact their long-term diet and choices. If you're not sure where to start, here are some practical tips and tricks that simplify the process and get your family on board.
Focus on an Overall Diet and Not Just Food
Instead of focusing on "good food" and "bad food," concentrate on the overall diet instead. Teach them about the food groups and how their diet should mostly consist of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products. It's wise not to turn junk food into a villain. Instead, talk about how it's a "sometimes" food for special occasions.
Talk About Moderation
Beyond not turning junk food into a villain, it's important to promote moderation. Kids can get hooked on healthy options like yogurt or nuts. Both of those choices are great in moderation, but too much of anything can throw the rest of a healthy diet off course.
Lessons on moderation can also include teaching kids to listen to their bodies. Tell them to eat until they feel satisfied instead of overeating. Remind them that the donut made them feel tired and grumpy an hour later to teach them to make connections between food choices and their health.
Make It Easy to Choose Healthy Snacks
Adults and children alike often reach for unhealthy snacks and sugary treats out of convenience and boredom. To make it easier to choose nutrition over convenience, teach children to make it easy for them. Keep fruits, nuts, cheese, and veggies on hand, and limit the processed food you keep in your pantry. Try displaying healthy snacks in colorful bowls and bins that are within reach and in sight.
Get Kids Involved in their Diets
The kids in your life are more likely to lean toward healthy eating if they're involved in the process. Take them to the store to pick out healthy ingredients or seasonal patches to pick their own fruits. The next step is equipping them with kid-friendly recipes and ask them to help you cook, prep food, or come up with innovative snacks. Over time, kids will feel ownership over their diet and be confident in their choices.
Eat Together as a Family
Role model healthy eating for your kids by eating together as a family. It's an opportunity to put your advise into practice and show kids you're on board.
Just don't approach it with a somber, serious tone. Make mealtime light and relaxed, turn off the electronic devices, and keep the conversation engaged. When it's appropriate, ask if they like their dinner and what kind of dishes they're enjoying lately.
Keep it Fun
There are other ways to keep healthy eating fun beyond family dinner. Get creative and use cookie cutters to shape fruits and vegetables into fun shapes. You can also take your healthy snacks outdoors or throw a random lunchtime picnic in your backyard to reinvent mealtime. The overall goal is to instill a positive outlook on healthy eating.
Get a Little Sneaky
If you're having trouble getting enough nutrition into your child's diet you can get a little sneaky with it. That fresh strawberry smoothie can contain they yogurt they're not interested in as a base. Or you can look for recipes that infuse small amounts of veggies right into the batter. For example, zucchinis are barely noticeable in brownie recipes.
Make sure to offer the yogurt, zucchini, and anything else to your child. The idea isn't to keep them from ever making a healthy food choice on their own, it's to incorporate more of it into their diet. It could also help inspire you to get more out of your own healthy eating routine.
Introducing your children to healthy eating is a gradual process that requires patience and consistency. Ready to get even more probiotics in your day to supercharge your family's health? Start shopping our supplements or comprehensive health programs to pick up organic greens, multivitamins, probiotics, and more.