Do you have kids in your home who are picky eaters? Do your kids crave junk foods and only want to eat sugary or salty snacks? When you set the right example by making healthy food choices, controlling your portions and eating according to a basic schedule your kids will learn to do as you do.
As a mom, I’ve had experience dealing with three daughters with varying degrees of pickiness about food. I have found that kids learn early on that you really can’t force them to eat what they don’t want to eat. But I also learned to choose my battles and not make the kitchen table a war zone.
Since this can be such a contentious issue when you have young kids, I’d like to share some tips about how you can set a good example for your kids to encourage them to make healthy food choices.
Eat a variety of healthy foods
Be adventurous and expose your children to lots of different kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables, prepared in healthy ways.
Teach your kids safe food-handling skills
Always wash your hands, work on a clean surface and use clean utensils. Teach your children how to properly handle kitchen tools and keep sharp objects away from tiny hands.
Bring your kids to the grocery store and teach them how to choose healthy foods
Without getting obsessive about counting calories and fats, explain to your kids the health benefits of eating minimally processed foods, how prepackaged foods often have a lot of added sugar and/or sodium.
Drink lots of water rather than juices and soft drinks
If your kids do not like to drink plain water, experiment with flavoring your water with slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or mint leaves.
Turn the TV off and eat meals together at the table as a family.
Don’t read at the table and banish cell phones and electronic devices from the meal table. Teach your children to focus on the meal and the time with family.
Establish a mealtime routine
Do your best to serve meals around the same time each day. If possible, schedule at least one meal a day where the whole family is present at the table.
Avoid eating junk foods
If you want your kids to establish healthy eating habits you must set an example. Do not eat the foods that you would not want them to eat.
Encourage your kids to try new foods
Everyone can get into a rut sometimes as far as eating goes. Encourage your kids to be adventurous and taste new foods at least three times before they declare that they ‘hate’ that particular food.
Finally, be flexible. As I mentioned earlier, mealtime is a special time for families. You don’t want to make the dinner table a battleground. Offer your children healthy choices and encourage them to expand their palate and try new foods that might end up becoming their favorites.