Teaching kids to eat healthy without losing your mind
Written by: Theresa Brawner
Parents often have a problem with picky kids, who agree to eat only their favorite food, but it definitely isn’t always the healthy one. There are numerous ways to make children happy and willing to eat food that provides all the materials necessary for proper growth and development. These tips will help you with seemingly futile struggle for a healthier diet, from which you will come out as a winner, and your child as a lover of valuable ingredients.
Include the children in the process of preparing food, take them to the grocery shopping, tell what you’re doing while you prepare food, or bring them when you’re doing something in the garden (if you do not have a garden, show them a picture in which people handle the garden while planting or picking vegetables). When children are involved in the process of food preparation, it is less likely to feel that their healthy food is imposed. If the children like the process of how food passes from the farm to the table, and if you present the story in an interesting way, they maybe even forget they disgust some food.
Make a fun meal. You already see beautiful pancakes decorated with eyes and a smile or fried cheese in various, interesting forms. Take some time and focus on interesting decoration of healthy food or coming up with interesting names, such as “magical peas” or “smart beans”. You can seek for exquisite recipes online and get a good idea. Some children will eat whatever you serve if you decorate it with smiley face. For some children this trick will not help, but try to make the meal interesting by stacking food by colors, or make themed meals, special children’s accessories and mat plate. Kids love games, but if in the plate is small dinosaur that eats trees of broccoli it will certainly become more interesting. Connecting healthy foods with fun things that kids love will turn a meal into a fun game and make your work easier.
Do not force them to eat it all. One of the biggest misconceptions is that if parents force children to eat some food at force, that children will eventually start to eat it whereas in fact you get the opposite effect. Punishment and arguments will turn a meal into a negative experience and children will learn to associate food with negative feelings. Place the food in front of the child but do not insist that it should be eaten. This rule is really basic, because nobody wants to transform meals in wars around the dishes. In addition, you do not want the child to eat vegetables just to serve the dessert at the end, because such habits are not sustainable in the long run.
Bring the “one bite rule”. Studies have shown that children who do not want to eat certain dishes change their minds 8 out of 10 times after they eat one bite. A large number of parents had the success with”one bite rule” which requires children to try at least one bite of food they don’t like.
Change the dynamics of the food – take the child to a meal with friends, relatives or neighbors who have children of the same age, especially if the kids eat all, it can be a great incentive for stronger approach to the plate. A good example of a child of the same age who loves vegetables can encourage your child to try some of the greens.
Be an example. The best way to teach children to eat what is healthy is to eat the same food. If vegetables are not on your plate, you cannot expect the kids eat it if you do not like it. If you do not eat healthy food, why would kids do that? But if they see you to enjoy the fruits or vegetables, they might decide to join you.
Theresa Brawner is a 28-year-old fitness instructor from Boston, MA, who writes articles for www.diet.st. in her free time. When she isn’t helping new moms get back in shape, you can find her in the kitchen, working on new recipes.