7 Ways to Turn Your Kids into Healthy Eaters

Kids are notorious for being picky and hard to please come mealtime. Getting them to eat healthy or even try a new food feels like an uphill battle, and it doesn’t help that junk food and advertisements for fattening and sugary foods are everywhere you turn. But no matter how futile your efforts may seem, it is your responsibility to instill good eating habits in your child at a young age so that they can grow up to be healthy, strong adults. Here are seven ways to turn your kids into healthy eaters:

  1. Sneak in healthy foods with their favorite foods:

    One way to get your kids to eat healthier is to pair healthy foods with their favorite foods. For example, if your child loves macaroni and cheese, try adding diced broccoli, bell peppers, or peas to the mix. They may be reluctant to eat the new food at first, but over time they will hopefully grow to accept it and its versatility.

  2. Make junk food a treat:

    If you want your kids to become healthy eaters, then make junk food a treat. When the majority of your child’s meals are home-cooked and healthy, then the occasional candy, fast food, or soda will feel like a special treat. Cutting out all junk food from a child’s diet is too extreme and is likely to backfire when they are at school or a friend’s house. Treating junk food as a treat, however, can give them a healthier perspective as to why it’s eaten in moderation.

  3. Be a good role model:

    Kids do as they see. If you’re being a good role model and eating healthy foods, they will notice and be more apt to follow in your footsteps. Even when you think they aren’t looking or listening to your order, they are. In addition to making healthy food choices, you should also emphasize the importance of physical activity. Whether it’s taking a family walk, playing on the playground, or going to the community pool, kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

  4. Eat as a family:

    Eating as a family reinforces the importance of mealtime and good nutrition. When kids have a meal routine in place, they are more likely to look forward to eating and will have an appetite come mealtime. This is another good opportunity to show your kids how to eat healthy and follow your lead.

  5. Make it a lesson:

    As you probably already know, kids love to ask why. “Why can’t I eat this?” “Why do I have to eat if I’m not hungry?” These are just a few of the “whys” kids ask at the dinner table. Instead of answering with the signature response, “because I said so,” give them an answer that teaches them something valuable. Give them a science lesson and reinforce the fact that in order to be strong and tall like their favorite athletes, they need to eat right.

  6. Make it fun:

    If you want your child to be a healthy eater, then make it fun. A few tricks to get your kids to eat new foods is to cut the food into fun shapes and bite-sized portions. Amuse your child by naming healthy snacks, such as “ants on a log” for celery and raisins, or “mud on a stick” for peanut butter and pretzels.

  7. Get kids involved:

    From picking out recipes and grocery shopping to packing their lunches and preparing dinner, kids like to be involved in the food decision process. While you’re picking out foods or preparing meals together, talk to your kids about the benefits of eating healthy and why it’s necessary. This is also a good time to teach them how to read food labels and make certain foods on their own.