(These are plant-based nuggets, btw!)
In last week’s Newsletter, I started to touch on the subject of Picky Eaters – and how we all know them – or are them! But that doesn’t mean our kids have to be! Or, if we are the picky eaters, it doesn’t mean we have to stay that way!
If you want to read more of the back-story, you can check it out HERE, otherwise, I am just going to jump right into the 5 Ways to Help Kids Eat Healthier – because honestly, with all I have going on this week, there isn’t time for much else! #momlife
5 Ways to Help Kids Eat Healthier – It’s as easy as changing our own perspective
Being a picky eater… All kids will go through it. Whether it is because of teething, a cold, or a new environment, babies, toddlers, and even older children are influenced by their circumstances and may not eat foods today that they couldn’t get enough of yesterday. Although extremely frustrating, this is perfectly normal and totally OK!
The problem lies when our children won’t eat anything (other than chicken nuggets and French fries), or is totally opposed to trying new foods – ever! When this happens on a continuous basis, parents often get fed up and will give in to their child’s demands. It’s obviously a whole lot easier to give them what they want then to deal with tantrums, flying food, and constant arguments. Heck, we want to enjoy our meals too!
Essentially, we give up.
But it doesn’t have to be this way!
The real change needs to start with us as parents! We need to change our perspective in order to help our children change theirs. Here are 5 simple steps to help make that happen:
- Don’t look at meal-time as a battle where one of the sides needs to win. Eating should be enjoyable. Your kids can feel your stress and will take it on themselves. So, before eating, take a deep breath and give thanks for your food – and your kids. Even this little gesture will start the meal off in a positive place, and set a good tone for what is to come.
- Don’t rush through your meal. Rushing and trying to scarf down your foods shows your child[ren] that eating isn’t top on your list of priorities and that other things are more important. Kids (and us adults!) need to realize that we eat to literally fuel our bodies and that the healthier we eat the better that we will feel. Slowly chewing our food and breathing between bites will show our kids that mealtime is important and that we care about our bodies – and theirs.
- Don’t label foods as good and bad. Now, this can be tough. We all grew up hearing fruits and vegetables were good, and sweets were bad. But saying something is “good” or is “bad” is too generalized and doesn’t explain why. Moreover, it doesn’t let kids make up their minds for themselves – something that we all know they love to do! Instead, tell them the benefits of eating their veggies. Ie, “carrots will help your eyesight so you will be able to see all the way across the playground”, or how eating their brown rice will give them “lots of energy so they can play soccer with the big kids” (or whatever it may be). You can also tell them that the “other foods” will make them feel sluggish or hurt their bellies instead of labeling them as “bad”.
- Don’t shun healthy foods or food groups (in front of your kids). Yes, there will always be those foods that you [as an adult] doesn’t like. You never have, you never will. But don’t let your kids hear you say that. By saying that you “never” liked something will make your kids think that this excuse is fair for them to use as well, possibly limiting foods that they would otherwise have really enjoyed but are never willing to even try. Yes, my cauliflower-hating husband, I’m talking to you!
- Don’t make food a reward. By saying stuff like “I ate all my vegetables so now I get dessert” makes a young mind think that by doing something that you didn’t want to do (ie, eating your veggies), you get something positive (ie, dessert). In turn, this means that eating your vegetables is something you HAVE to do and is, therefore, a negative thing. Instead, say something like, “I ate all of my vegetables and have filled-up my health tank. I now only have room for a small treat.” Talking this way may feel odd at first, but it will help instill that eating your vegetables (or other good-for-you foods) is positive and something that you actually enjoy doing. Better yet, don’t associate dessert with eating your dinner at all. You can instead mention how you’ve worked hard today and want to treat yourself because you deserve it. Again, this correlates positive with positive.
I could go on and on about the reasons why we should get kids to eat healthier and how it all begins with us as parents, but I won’t. At least not in this article ;).
However, I will finish this off by saying that kids learn by example and there is no better example than us parents. Kids see you taking good care of yourself – from eating healthy and exercising to taking some “me time” – and they will want to do the same for themselves too! I have to admit, there is nothing better than seeing a child who enjoys being healthy and active!
For more info on helping you and your kids eat healthy every day, CONTACT US today! And please stay tuned for more in our Series on Picky Eaters and what to do about it!
As always, I want to thank you for being part of our community! We love having you! And now, more than ever, I want to thank you all for being great Moms – because you really are a Super Hero in the eyes of those who matter most!
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