I may receive commissions from purchases made through links in this article. Full Disclosure
If you are like me, you want your kids to eat healthy. Who wouldn’t?
However, I think there’s a big difference between kids who eat healthy because they HAVE to and kids who eat healthy because they WANT to.
A child who forces down that piece of broccoli because he has to will likely not continue to eat broccoli when mommy is no longer watching over him.
Teach a child why he should eat healthy and how to eat healthy and odds are he will continue to make wise food choices.
You mean you can’t just force your kid to eat their veggies and be done with it? No, unfortunately instilling life long habits is not that easy.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Same concept applies.
How do you teach your children to be healthy eaters? How do you instill in them the desire to choose the best foods?
Here are some tips that I have found very useful and even though my oldest is only 5 years old I can already see the benefits.
8 Tips For Raising Healthy Eaters
- Keep your kitchen full of healthy food. If you stock it full of cookies, then naturally your kid will choose cookies. Keep the cookies out of the house and there’s no temptation and suddenly that apple sounds yummy.
This is not to say that you can’t have a cookie now and then, just don’t make it a staple in your kitchen. In fact, don’t buy them at all so that when you do want a cookie you must actually bake one!
- Lead by example. If you want your kids to eat healthy then you can’t be munching on french fries while saying, “eat your carrots.” That’s just not going to fly.
Kids are smart. Plus, if your kid sees you enjoying a salad they might just want one too. Kids like to have what others are having, in case you haven’t noticed.
- Grow your own food. If you let your child help grow tomatoes, they will be quite interested in eating what they grew.
- Change the names. If you need to and think your kid will go for it, then by all means call broccoli “little trees”. Get creative on your kids favorites such as making carrot fries!
- Explain what the food they are eating does for them. We once were eating dinner with family and my son did not want to try his carrots or his chicken. However, once his uncle explained that the carrots would help his eyes so he could play video games better and the chicken would give him strong muscles, there was no stopping my son from eating his food.
My son also suffers from nosebleeds, so we’ve explained that eating green veggies gives him vitamin K and that helps blood to clot. He enjoys eating foods because he knows how he’s helping his body.
- Explain why unhealthy food is bad. If your child watches commercials or sees something that is not healthy, do not just say no. Take the time to explain why you do not buy unhealthy food.
Just saying no will only let your child think that mommy won’t let him. By explaining why, you equip your child with the knowledge to make wiser food choices.
- Let them help in the kitchen. Yes it’s a pain to have your child make a mess in your kitchen but when you allow them to enter the world of cooking, you open up the world of food to them. They will learn that food doesn’t come from a bag.
- Give them opportunities. Obviously you should be putting veggies on their dinner plate but how about setting a plate of cut veggies during the day or before dinner while you are cooking. The kids will think it’s great that you are letting them eat whenever and if it’s sitting out they are more likely to munch on it.
I know I personally wouldn’t dive into a plate of carrots but if it’s sitting out and there’s nothing else to eat, I will be eating carrots quite happily.
We all want our children to eat healthy. However, it doesn’t just happen overnight.
Hopefully, these tips will help you impart a love of real food to your children.
This is great advice, especially about the commercials and about leading by example. Our daughter is only one now, but she eats just about anything, because she sees us eating it. She always wants some of my salad or green smoothie or some of my husband's grilled chicken because she wants to eat whatever we are eating. Therefore we do not keep things like junk food in the house!
love these ideas and already do a lot of them! you're right about kids wanting what's on your plate. I've withheld the salad from my 3 year old's plate b/c I deemed it too messy, and he was eating other veggies anyway, but he wanted to try the salad. now he always eats it. he also loves to eat foods that make him "big and strong". I love the veggie snack plate idea too, copied it when I saw a friend do it, and that way if my kids don't eat their veggies at mealtime, I know they still got a lot in before dinner.
Great article. As a child my mother would pack me celery with peanut butter, milk, apples, etc for my school snacks. Now as an adult I LOVE to eat healthy foods. I do like some chocolate now and then, but overall I eat very healthy. I thank my mother for giving me a good start!
My little girl is so picky! I’ve been asking my pediatrician for ways to fix it, and a lot of his tips were similar to what you have on here. Thank you so much for sharing, hopefully this will help my Scarlet out!