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Getting your kids eat healthy

Getting your kids eat healthy
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It’s become your least favorite time of the day: eating time. The kids have turned up their nose at the salad and casserole you made. Now they’re negotiating for chicken nuggets and macaroni.

Despite your best efforts, you may have a picky eater on your hands. Introduce foods more than once with different preparations as taste changes. Foods should always be offered in a variety of forms and with different seasonings

It's become your least favorite time of the day: eating time. The kids have turned up their nose at the salad and casserole you made. Now they're negotiating for chicken nuggets and macaroni. As you reluctantly put the salad away and tear open a bag of frozen nuggets, you wonder how to get kids to eat healthy. Whether you're a preschool teacher, a childcare provider or a frazzled parent, you need a few tricks up your sleeve for getting kids to eat healthy.

Offer choices

No one likes to be forced to do something, especially rambunctious toddlers or older kids looking to establish their independence. This principle holds true at the kitchen table, too. Though the choice between apple slices and celery with peanut butter may not seem like much, it gives kids the autonomy they crave, while still keeping you in control of nutrition. Your little one might be more excited to try a new food or healthy dish if they feel as though it was their idea. The little foodie in your kitchen might really enjoy meal planning as well.

Let them make their own plates

Letting your children take control of their own plate is another way to let them exercise their independence and get them interested in trying new foods. It may take a few tries, but most kids will be more willing to add healthy foods to their plates, if they have the autonomy to choose. Meals should generally include protein, a complex carbohydrate, vegetables, fruit and milk or another calcium-rich food. By giving your child options within those categories, they'll get to exercise choice while still getting nutritional components they need.

Include your kids while cooking

Kids are more likely to give a new food a try if they have had a hand in making it. Basic tasks like measuring ingredients, stirring a bowl or tossing a salad are all great starting points. As they perform these simple tasks, they'll see how full dishes and entire meals come together, giving them a primer for preparing their own healthy meals as they get older. Cooking with preschoolers sometimes means cooking slower and simpler, but the payoff is worth it.

Don't force it

As we mentioned earlier, choice is a key element to encouraging a healthy diet. Though exposing them to new foods and ways of preparing them can help raise adventurous eaters, it's unlikely that they will love every food. In fact, despite your best efforts, you may have a picky eater on your hands. Introduce foods more than once with different preparations as taste changes. Foods should always be offered in a variety of forms and with different seasonings. Never force or push picky eaters around you, just do what you can to encourage them.

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