Are You Teaching Good Eating Habits?
It’s not easy to get some kids to eat right.
Come to think of it, it’s not easy to get some parents to eat right. We’re the ones who start it a lot of the time, aren’t we?
When you’re at home with the kids all day there’s a lot of pressure to feed them right. You just don’t have the excuse of having been at work outside the house all day for why you’re too tired to cook. Plus you’re there to see what they eat for every meal.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always make it easy to teach good eating habits. Some kids are pretty resistant to the idea right from the start.
Start Them Off Right
Once you’re past the baby food stage, resist the urge to get a lot of prepackaged foods. It’s more work for you, but if you can cook most foods from scratch or something close to scratch you will have much better control over what your kids eat.
You’ll also be teaching them to appreciate more flavors, as most prepared and prepackaged foods are relatively bland, designed to appeal to the widest possible range of palates. They may also contain artificial colors and various types of sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup, that you are best off trying to minimize in your children’s diets.
Get the Kids Involved in Food Preparation
Most young children love helping in the kitchen. It’s something they can do with you, or at least watch what you do. Make sure you let them help as appropriate.
Kids can tear lettuce for salads, throw chopped vegetables into the bowl, help you measure ingredients and watch you do the actual cooking from a few feet away.
If you have the time, space and inclination, a garden is also a great way to get children interesting in healthy foods. Kids are more likely to enjoy vegetables that they have helped to grow, not to mention the great taste of produce fresh from your own garden.
Make Healthy Fun
Not all healthy food is boring. A common favorite is the fruit smoothie. You throw a variety of fruits, some juice and ice, maybe some honey for sweetener, into a blender and start mixing. Tastes great, very healthy.
You can make it more healthy by adding some vegetables into the mix. Carrot goes well in many cases, as do some leafy greens such as spinach. Just make sure there’s enough fruit to appeal to the kids.
I like to use frozen fruit in my smoothies, as it cuts out the need for ice.
The great thing about smoothies is that you can experiment with them. Berries of all sorts go very well as a general rule, and can easily be bought frozen for much cheaper than they are fresh much of the year. Bananas work very well. And if you want some dairy in there, yogurt adds a wonderful flavor.
What If They Just Don’t Like Healthy Foods?
Not all kids make their parents’ lives so easy, naturally. Some will express distaste for every healthy food you try to offer them.
Some say to disguise the vegetables. Books such as Deceptively Delicious and other titles provide recipes so that you can work vegetables into a wide variety of foods.
That’s not my own favorite method. You aren’t teaching your kids to appreciate vegetables and other healthy foods for their own sakes when you do that. However, if you need to work them in and nothing else is working, it’s a reasonable enough measure to take until you can get something better going.