Making kids eat healthy foods is a to priority for all parents. However, as children are naturally picky eaters, feeding them with healthy foods prove to be a challenge. It can put your patience and understanding to the test.
If you are currently struggling with these issues, here are 8 tips you can use.
1. Make your kid’s favorite meals a lot healthier
If your kid is already passionate about pancakes and cereals, try to create a healthier version of them. Pancakes, for example, can be made with banana so you don’t have to pack in a lot of sugar into the mix. You can also shred bits of vegetables in the batter. The key thing is presentation. You need to be creative in how you’re going to present healthier treats.
2. Avoid keeping unhealthy snacks in your pantry
When kids can’t see bags of chips and candies, they aren’t likely to eat them. By keeping out the bad stuff in your kitchen, you’ll leave them with no other option but to snack on healthy stuff.
You have to remember, however, that limiting treats completely isn’t good, too. When you deprive your kids of their treats, they are prone to overindulging once they get their hands on them. You need to teach them about moderation and one way to do that is to offer treats occasionally.
3. Encourage your kids to join meal preparations
Encouraging your kids to participate in meal preparation gives them more opportunity to decide on the food they’ll eat. You can ask for their help in deciding the meals for the week and take them with you when you go to the grocery.
When kids feel more in control, you’ll feel less stressed out in convincing them to eat the food they prepared. It can make meal time enjoyable not only for them but for the whole family, too.
4. Create a schedule for their snacks
Creating and sticking to a schedule works well for kids. If they are conditioned to get treats at a certain time, they’ll bug you less about them before meal time. Bear in mind that it may take a while before they get used to it so be patient with your kids.
When they complain about feeling hungry, do not give in to the temptation of offering them snacks. Slight hunger is alright. It’s even helpful, actually, in motivating your picky eaters to eat whatever is there at your dining table. This, however, is different from letting your children go extremely hungry just to force them to eat.
In preparing their snacks, it’s a good idea to incorporate two food groups. This way, your kids will be able to have more nutrients in a single serving. For example, if you’ll be offering whole wheat bread, make sure that you also add cheese.
5. Be a good example
Children look up to adults. They tend to imitate what they see adults do. If they often catch you munching on chips and drinking sodas, they are likely to do the same thing. Set up a good example and try to eat healthy foods, especially when they’re around. It’s also a good idea to share your food with them to make them feel more comfortable about eating healthy. You can encourage them to take a piece of your carrot sticks or to taste your morning smoothie.
6. Reward good behavior
If your picky eater finishes a plate of healthy food or his serving of vegetable, reward him with a healthy treat after his meal. Rewards motivate children to keep doing the same behavior and the more they do it, the more it becomes a habit.
7. Never punish your kid
Picky eaters can make you feel irritated, frustrated and stressed out. No matter how difficult it is to feed your kids, never use punishment as a response. Threatening your kids won’t only make it even harder for you to feed them but it can also make them lose their confidence in you. They can avoid or even hate you.
Punishment isn’t limited to physical abuse. Threatening your children about letting them starve is a form of punishment, too. Cursing or showing aggressive behavior at the dining table isn’t acceptable as well. These actions can make your kids associate food with negative emotions and thoughts.
8. Give more opportunities
If your kid denies a food you prepare for the first time, don’t take it out of the equation completely. You can reintroduce it again after a couple of weeks.
When handling picky eaters, it’s important that you give them more healthy options to choose from. You can mix and match the food items or serve them in a different way. Take, for example, potatoes. You can bake, puree or mash them depending on your dish. You can also substitute food items, like using pureed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.
Samantha is a full-time writer and mother to three kids. She has covered a wide range of subjects throughout her career- from parenting hacks to writing the best soup maker reviews.