Today’s families are busy, with lots of demands on both our money and our time. And that makes fast food as well as processed, packaged food more appealing. But the foods that are the easiest and cheapest to prepare are often not the healthiest.
Each day, you help your children to form eating habits that are likely to stick with them for years to come. Help them to understand the importance – and the power – of healthy choices. Here are ten tips you can start using today:
1. Sneak in healthy foods. Use a food processor to puree carrots, for example, and sneak them into your spaghetti sauce. Grind nuts and use them in your breading for baked chicken.
2. Use silly names for fruits and vegetables. My son started eating broccoli florets only after we started calling them “dinosaur trees.” Make dinnertime fun.
3. Make the healthy items on the plate look silly. Create funny faces or designs on the plate. Family Fun magazine routinely features creative ways to dress up vegetables, both online and in their print magazine.
4. Let your kids experiment with healthy dipping sauces for their veggies. Cream based dressings, such as Ranch and Bleu Cheese, are not the healthiest choices. See if your kids enjoy dipping their celery sticks in a bit of natural peanut butter. You may also enjoy experimenting with the variety of mustards that can lend a unique and delicious flavor to raw vegetables and fruits. Another healthy thing to try: squirt some fresh lemon or lime juice on veggies or salad greens.
5. Every month, try a new fruit or vegetable. See what your kids think of pomegranates, tangerines, kumquats, and so on. It’s fun to explore the wide world of healthful foods as a family.
6. Make sure you have lots of fresh fruits and vegetables available. Put out a plate of vegetables for the kids, if they need a snack before dinner. Make sure you have at least two bowls of fresh, raw fruits or vegetables that are readily available at all times.
7. Reward children for their healthy choices. Keep a chart with tally marks and keep track of the spontaneous times that each child chose to fuel his or her body in a healthy way.
8. Fore go the spreads or syrups unless your children specifically ask for them. Your kids may prefer toast and waffles, straight out of the toaster, without butter or syrup. They may even enjoy salad with no dressing. Try it and see.
9. Make sure your kids see you making healthy choices. A good example to follow can go a long way in ensuring a child’s healthy relationship with food.
10. Talk about the effect that various foods have on your body. Let a child know which vitamins a particular healthy food has, as well as what effect those vitamins have on their body and in their day to day life.
When children begin to understand that the food choices they make have a very real effect on the way their body works as well as they way it feels, they begin building their own healthy relationship with food.