As a parent, you understand the benefits of healthy eating. But what about your children? Give them the choice between an apple and a bar of chocolate… and you can almost guarantee what their preferred choice will be! Some children will refuse to eat their greens, while others will refuse to eat anything that looks unfamiliar to them. And finding tips for picky children isn’t always helpful, as each child is unique!
The problem is that without healthy habits during youth, your children may experience a range of health issues if they eat poorly. Although the road may be challenging, here are some healthy eating tips for picky children (and ways to keep your sanity along the way!):
#1: Remind your child why they need to eat healthily
A little bit of education goes a long way. Let your child know why healthy eating matters! Look for videos on YouTube that are appropriate for their age range, and download food apps on their phones or tablets that explain the importance of their five a day. You don’t need to do this alone, of course.
You can also tap into some of the best dental services in your area and find a family dentist who will explain the consequences of too much sugar to your child. Call on your family doctor too, as they will reinforce the importance of healthy eating to your child.
#2: Serve new foods gradually
Yes, you want your child to eat healthy foods… but don’t bombard them with too much at once. Introduce the new foods gradually, and serve them with items that you know your child will eat. When your child is less overwhelmed and more comfortable, they may be more willing to give something new a go!
#3: Make healthy eating fun
You can cut up fruit and veggies into fun shapes, as your child might be more willing to try them this way. Or you can arrange them in fun ways on your child’s plate. You can also include dips and sauces that your child can dip the foods into, or arrange the toppings creatively on top of your child’s favorite pizza. These are all ways to incorporate healthy foods into your child’s diet in fun ways!
#4: Let your children grow their own healthy foods
If your children have had a hand in growing their own foods, they might be more willing to try them. So, if you have a garden outdoors, or space indoors to grow a few veggies, give your children the opportunity! There is no guarantee that your children eat them, of course, but it’s worth a try, especially if you can make a fuss and tell them how tasty their homegrown foods are.
#5: Stock your pantry with healthy snacks
Remember the apple vs chocolate bar question we raised earlier? Consider other alternatives to the apple that aren’t overloaded with sugar. You might offer them fruit bars or granola bars, for example, or carrot sticks, bags of nuts, and other types of fruit.
Check out these other healthy snacks, each of which can be offered as a choice to your child. By stocking your pantry with foods that you know are good for your kids, you will still give them some control of what they eat, with the peace of mind that what they are eating is healthy.
#6: Put a healthy twist on your child’s favorite foods
A plate of broccoli and peas is nobody’s idea of fun, so this might be one offering you don’t serve up on your child’s plate! Instead, put a healthy twist on those foods that your child might eat, such as pizzas with healthy food toppings, or breakfast cereals with added pieces of fruit instead of sugar.
You can do the same with desserts, perhaps with ice creams made using healthy recipes instead of the fattier alternatives. With a few small changes, you can encourage your children to eat better, no matter what their favorite foods are.
#7: Be a good role model
Don’t tell your child to eat their greens if you’re prone to throwing yours into the trash. And don’t encourage your child to eat healthier snacks if your preferred snack of choice is a doughnut! Eat healthier as a family, as your child will be more likely to eat better if you can role model the same changes and choices in your life.
Don’t lose hope! These are just a few tips for picky children, and there are many more. Who knows? Maybe in time, your child will grow out of the “picky” stage altogether!
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