Raising healthy eaters isn’t as hard as it may seem. Here are some tips to help make eating well fun for all:
Sneaky yes, but a good way to add more fruits and vegetables to your child’s diet is to incorporate them into their favorite dishes. For example, add some squash and broccoli to your homemade macaroni and cheese recipe, or order up whole-wheat crust pizza topped with vegetables and low-fat cheese. Don’t try to camouflage the heathy stuff though; research suggests that kids are more likely to cultivate a taste for vegetables that are visible in their meals.
Tip: For a cool and healthy snack, whip up some frozen yogurt popsicles made with Greek yogurt and strawberries or fresh fruit chunks.
Be a role model:
Young children often model their eating behaviors after what they observe in the home. Eat together as a family often and make healthy food a natural part of your table conversation without preaching or bullying. Use appealing words and phrases that speak to the qualities of healthy, delicious food – its taste, texture and aroma, as well as its health benefits.
Research shows that letting young children help with meal preparation raises their curiosity and acceptance of new foods. For example, invite your child to help you take out and wash fresh fruits and vegetables, organize and measure ingredients, and stir ingredients into recipes. Teach portion control by asking a child’s help serving meals.
Make it fun:
Create teaching moments that are plenty of fun, too. Use animal-shaped cutters to prepare a kid-friendly fruit salad. Invent creative lunch box themes featuring healthy food heroes. Storytelling is a great way to introduce kids to clever food facts and the basics of good eating.
Keep at it:
Be patient. Establishing healthy food values and habits takes time. The formative years leading up to school age are extremely important, so start very young and progress in ways that are age-appropriate and respectful of a child’s preferences and limits. Rather than forcing certain foods, cultivate a child’s palette by letting them explore a range of healthy choices.
For delicious high fiber meal plans, recipes and tips on healthy eating, drinking and losing weight, check out my latest book, The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber!
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber and The F-Factor Diet. Subscribe to Tanya’s free weekly newsletter and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.