Parents and caregivers have the sole responsibility to introduce healthy food choices to young children. Children learn from the meals you offer, the way you serve food, the way you shop, and the examples you set. They develop habits early that, once learned, can last a lifetime, so it’s never too early to make a change. It’s important to take every opportunity to promote a healthy active lifestyle. Try these five fun ways to get young children to eat healthier.
1. Prepare Healthy Meals Together
Engaging children in the preparation of kid-friendly healthy dishes is so fun and so very messy, but children are more likely to eat something that they have helped to prepare. So, bring out those bowls, spoons and cups. While kids are helping, it is a good time to introduce portions, simple fractions and units of measure. When you are finished preparing, show children how to set the table. Don’t forget to dine together. Children who eat meals with their families tend to have better diets, not just because meals are planned, but because of the positive examples that are set at the table.
2. Get Creative
Make silly food faces out of fresh fruit and vegetable slices, and come up with amusing, silly names for the healthy foods you prepare. Celery and raisins become “ants on a log,” peanut butter and pretzels can be “mud on a stick,” and spaghetti with tomato sauce can turn into “wiggly worms.” The golden word is “distraction.” The apple wedge is a boat, and their mouth is a river. Peas are a food made out of green. You can become a consummate actor or a verbal Picasso to get them to taste something new.
3. Pack Snacks Together
Children can also benefit from packing snacks for the day, or packing for a picnic. When planning a long-term getaway, encourage them to help with bagging individual portions of fruits, chilled veggies, cheese sticks, crackers, trail mix, water, 100% juice boxes, and other good choices. These are the images they will carry with them throughout their day.
4. Take Children Shopping
Young kids love to play grown-up. On a real excursion to the grocery store, allow the children to pick a new fruit or vegetable to try at home. Let them weigh their choice, bag it, and put it on the conveyor belt. Once home, let them help you present it to the family. Try to avoid flying through each aisle like a secret agent on a mission. Slow down and turn shopping into a learning experience.
5. Plan a Family Taste Test
Slice a variety of apples such as, Fuji, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, and McIntosh. Set out a variety of breads such as Sourdough, Rye, Potato, Whole Wheat, Pita, and Tortilla. After each taste test, compare the various textures and characteristics while you talk about your favorites. A great time to do this without spending a great deal of money is during dinner at a buffet.
The following mybergen.com video will provide you with more ideas and advice to help you get your kids to eat healthier: