Finding it difficult to encourage healthy eating? If your little ones are picky eaters, there are some clever ways to convince them to try different foods. One of the greatest hurdles in feeding healthy food to a picky child: getting them to try it.
Children can be adventurous in many ways, but often cling to familiar foods. It limits their healthy eating options. By expanding your children’s food choices, you’ll have an easier time getting them to eat healthier.
Encourage healthy eating in your kids
Here are four useful tips for parents of picky eaters.
Encourage Them to Help Prepare Meals
A hands-on approach to preparing meals will likely make them more excited to eat the food they made. Age is a major factor in how much helping they’ll really be doing.
Get them involved:
- Let them give the mixing bowl a stir
- Allow them to dump in previously-measured ingredients
If you’re making a salad to go with the meal, have younger children break up lettuce pieces. Younger kids can add ingredients to the bowl whilst older kids can help chop vegetables. Have older children fry or grill.
No matter what age, children take pride in what they make. They’ll be more excited about eating the result. If they balk at certain ingredients, tell them the amazing health benefits they carry while adding them, to get their excitement back.
Blend in Familiar Tastes
If you know your kids already like certain flavors, you can try blending them into healthier foods so they’re more appetizing to eat.
- Cinnamon is a healthier alternative to sugar and can be sprinkled on fruit and yogurt for additional flavoring.
- Add garlic and oregano to salads and other nutritious meals.
- Mint is also surprisingly healthy and can give noodle and chicken dishes a more refreshing taste.
- Replace refined sweeteners with healthier alternatives, such as applesauce, coconut sugar, dates, and honey.
- Sprinkle bacon bits into a salad.
- Add a dash of cheese on potatoes.
All of the above can make a meal more appealing to a child who firmly clings to the familiar.
Dine at International Restaurants
Your kids will broaden their culinary horizons and try a variety of new foods when you take them to international restaurants in your area. A Thai or Greek restaurant often has menu items that are healthier than what you’d find at your average burger joint, and it still gives the exciting experience of eating out.
Many Italian and Mexican restaurants serve meals that include delicious and generous portions of vegetables. Once you find something at a restaurant that’s both healthy and that your child enjoys, find the recipe and learn to make it at home!
Divvy Up the Desserts
Instead of letting your kids indulge in large desserts, let them have smaller treats. Studies show when treats aren’t available in the home, then children gorge themselves on “special occasion” desserts.
While this doesn’t mean you should have a daily piece of cake or a bowl of ice-cream given every afternoon, small portions of little treats can go a long way.
- one small cookie after school
- a graham cracker
- little Hershey’s kiss
Small treats can go a long way in satisfying their daily cravings for sweets, and won’t impede their appetite for healthier items. Plus, it’ll make richer treats less interesting. Simply having these treats available in the cupboard is often enough. However, you want to make sure healthier options are readily available. You just never know when a kid might want to have some orange slices or an apple instead of a cookie or piece of chocolate.
Getting your kids to be less picky about their food choices and eat healthier doesn’t always have to be a battle. Threats of punishment and anxious pestering often results in further resistance. There are many ways to pique their natural interest. By finding smart ways for them to try new foods that they’ll probably like, you’ll be helping your children get the nutrition that they need.
Author bio: Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.