Tips To Encourage Children to Eat Healthy
It can be difficult to know how to make kids eat healthy food. Parents will try approaches that range from ordering to pleading, but they might wonder what will be most effective. The following is a list of various ideas on getting children to eat those basic food groups:
Eliminate the Possibility of Allergies and Intolerances
There might be a reason that a child does not want to eat a certain type of food consistently. They might be experiencing bathroom troubles or pain. Children are not very good at identifying whether a certain food is troubling their stomach. They simply will refuse many foods if they are in pain, but they will not say why.
The best thing to do in any instance is to ask the child if their tummy is hurting and if they are having problems going to the bathroom. Tell them that you want to take them to the doctor to get some allergy testing to eliminate the possibility of a food allergy.
The main offenders are lactose and gluten. Lactose has very pronounced effects on the stomach whereas gluten may or may not. There is a blood test to check for a gluten allergy such as Celiac Disease that all children should have at least once. With lactose, elimination to check for increased stomach discomfort or integration of lactase pills should help. Other allergies are usually more blatant and cause anaphylactic reactions.
Make a Food Chart
One thing that children never tire of is charts with stickers. If there is a reward at the end of the rainbow, then even better. Make your children a food groups chart where they get a sticker for each serving size of the food groups. Teach children what portions are, so if they eat a double portion, they get two stickers.
This might seem like a simplistic and time consuming approach, but most kids will love it. It is good to implement in early grade school years when they are learning about so many new concepts. Children at this age are very receptive to new ideas and like rewards based systems.
Try to make the end of the week rewards something not to do with food. And also don’t be too strict about them carb loading and other dietary concerns adults worry about. Unless the child is overweight or has health issues, then their bodies need the extra nutrients as they grow. Just make sure that you are not feeding them too much sugar and that they regularly get their blood tests for their annual examinations.
Involve Them in Decision Making
You might not like your child dictating dinner time meals. In fact, you are free as a parent to do whatever you like for these meals, provided they are healthy. But when it comes to snack times, always give children some veto power.
This means that if the child has options, give them the options and let them pick. If you are constantly telling them what to eat, they will not develop a healthy relationship with food. It might turn into a control battle where they go out of their way to eat too much or too little. So make sure children do not feel over regulated even in the home life. You will feel much better when you realize that sometimes as a parent you just have to relax a bit.
Every child likes to be creative. If you let them try different combinations, like peanut butter and apples, then they will start to appreciate the liveliness that can be the palate. Their taste buds will become more refined and yet expanded as they learn that different healthy foods can taste great together.
With the creativity, make sure the combinations are all healthy ingredients. This way they learn that eating peanut butter and celery can be just as fun as a sprinkled doughnut. And they will be so busy in the kitchen creating that they will be less likely to default to high sugar, high fat foods with little nutritional value in the future.
Teaching children to eat healthy foods will be a life long endeavor. Children are little humans too, so they will need will power at all stages in life to resist too many unhealthy snacks. Educating them through encouraging tools and fun activities about healthy food can work even better than lectures. And they will feel that eating is a fun, interactive activity with mainly good foods that fuel their active lifestyles.