Are you struggling to get your kids to eat right? If trying to get your children to eat well is an uphill battle, this can be a stressful ordeal for you.
However, your child must get the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. Switching to a more nutritious diet can also help sharpen their minds, maintain a healthy weight and avoid various health problems.
While convincing your little ones to consume fruits and veggies can be challenging, there are several ways to encourage them to eat better.
1. Try Reward Charts
Reward charts are a great way to reinforce positive behavior in your children. Plus, they allow you to keep track of their food habits.
As soon as your children try a new food or finish a meal, consider putting a sticker on their chart. Once they get a certain amount of stickers on their chart, they receive a reward. As a result, this encourages them to try new things in a positive way.
2. Use Fun Plates and Utensils
Plates with silly faces and Disney characters or fun-shaped utensils make it exciting for children to eat foods, even when they’re healthy options. For example, if your children like dinosaurs, you could consider getting dinosaur-shaped plates and spoons.
Many novelty plates and utensils are available online. And if you have older children, consider giving them grown-up dishes and silverware to make them feel like adults.
3. Make the Meals Look Appetizing
As a child, it’s normal for them to see a dish and look away in disgust. After all, everyone likes to try new foods based on how delicious they look. Therefore, you can encourage your children to eat healthier by making the foods look more appealing.
For example, you could use cookie cutters to >turn food into fun shapes they can play with before eating. Or, you could create a rainbow of colorful food and consider making animals or faces out of a meal.
Whichever way you choose to make it fun, using this method may help your children to enjoy their mealtimes.
4. Become a Role Model
If you have picky eaters, the simplest way to encourage your children to eat healthily is by simply asking them what their role models eat. This could be their family members, a favorite YouTube star or someone they admire.
Children are prone to imitate those they look up to, especially their parents. So instead of asking them to eat healthily, consider eating healthy with them.
5. Give Them Options
No kid likes it when their parents force them to do one thing. Most kids, especially toddlers and older children, want to be independent. Therefore, you can get around to having your kids eat healthy by giving them options in the kitchen.
While giving them an option doesn’t seem like much, it gives children the ability to feel grown up. Furthermore, options keep you in control of their nutrition.
For example, you can help them eat healthier by giving them a choice between apple slices or celery sticks with peanut butter.
6. Offer Treats After Mealtimes
Denying your children an occasional treat may only make them want one more. Therefore, giving them a treat every once in a while is ok. Just ensure you offer the treat as a way to encourage your children to eat healthily.
For example, you could tell your kids they can have a cup of ice cream for dessert if they eat their entire meal.
7. Give Smaller Portions
It’s better to scale food proportions to the appropriate size for your children’s age and needs. For instance, a three-year-old would not require the same amount that their teen sibling intakes.
So ask your children’s pediatrician about what a good size portion is to meet nutritional needs. You can also give them one serving at a time and allow them to return for more if they’re still hungry.
Serving in smaller groups helps them feel like a big person and helps them understand what portion control means.
8. Allow Your Kids To Help in the Kitchen
Children are more likely to try new foods when they have a hand in making them. You can start them out by giving them simple tasks, like tossing a salad and stirring and measuring ingredients.
As they help out in the kitchen, they see how you fully prepare a meal. As they get older, this primes them for preparing their own healthy food.
While preparing a healthy meal with young children might take longer, the payoff will be worthwhile in the long run.
9. Avoid Using Force
As mentioned before, giving your children choices is key to encouraging a healthy diet. Though you may have a couple of picky eaters on your hand, you should never force or push them to eat new and healthy foods.
Instead, you can nudge them in the right direction by putting healthy foods on their plate. Then, you can try to make it fun by telling them Mom and Dad are going to eat all their food before they do.
If you can somehow make it enjoyable for them, there’s a better chance they’ll at least try those foods.
Make Eating Healthy Less Stressful
Mealtimes don’t have to be a struggle for you and your family. You can use these simple strategies to get your kids to eat healthily. However, it helps to have patience initially, as it can take time for your kids to develop a taste for healthier foods.
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