5 Real Deal Tips for Raising a Healthy Eater
Parents...it is our JOB to raise healthy eaters. Will they fight you on it? Sure. Will they fight you on curfews and other rules? Of course. But, we know what's best and sometimes it's harder to be strict, but in the end, we owe it to our children.
1. BE THE EXAMPLE:
I think healthyeating.org said it best, "Babies start imitating their parents almost immediately and eating is no different. The way parents talk about food, cook meals and eat are the most important influence of developing healthy eating habits on a child. Children can also pick up on their parents' attitudes about food. As role models, parents need to make sure they're demonstrating a healthy attitude toward food so their children do, too. Raising well rounded eaters begins from the moment you introduce solids to your baby. It's usually pretty tough to start out allowing for a vary narrow palette and then try to diversify during the toddler years when pickiness is at it's peak. I've found this whole process works best if we show our children the importance of meal times and model how delicious roasted broccoli and garlic baked chicken is and (insert mom voice here) how big it makes our muscles! For real, if you expect them to eat it, you best be eatin' it yourself...and loving it!
2. LET THEM HELP
Allow them to pick out proteins, veggies and fruits and toss them in the cart. Our weekly trip to the grocery store is one of the highlights of my 3 year old's week (because i've convinced her so). They feel empowered getting to pick out foods. Next, let them help prep and "cook". It can be as simple as rinsing off the berries or turning the veggie spiraler handle or throwing chopped veggies in bowl for a salad but getting them involved with the prep of it all makes them more excited to eat it. For older kids, you can even give them a healthy cookbook and ask them to choose their healthy meal of the week. You can even show them how to use Pinterest or healthy websites. Let them be a part of the planning process.
3. MAKE IT FUN!
Cut their foods into fun shapes, put it into their favorite Olaf bowl with funky utensils and sell the heck out of to them! If I had a hidden camera to capture the ridiculous things i've said and done to get them to try something new I'd be committed. But hey! It's totally worth having a well adapted kid with healthy eating habits. Also give them choices that are win win for you. "Do you want strawberries or a banana for a snack?" Either way, they're gonna eat some fruit.
4. KEEP TRYING.
And now, let me quote Daniel Tiger (that little Mr. Rodgers knock off show has some good advice) "try try try try try again, keep trying you'll get better." If at first they don't seem to care for it, move on (with no emotional reaction) and try it again another day. I remember the early days with both my children and what they wouldn't eat one week, they couldn't get enough of the next. Silly babies. Just be careful to not give the situation negative attention.
5. 80/20 RULE
Kids are gonna be kids and for the most part, you've got control over what you feed them about 80% of the time. Save that 20% for birthdays, holidays, and visits to grammy and granddaddy's where they can go crazy on high fructose corn syrup and food dyes (if you so choose) because that's real life and teaching them balance will carryover in all aspects of life.