With childhood diabetes and obesity at all-time highs, it behooves every parent to stay abreast of their children’s eating habits. Should you discover that your children’s diets are lacking in nutrition and health-consciousness, you’d do well to remedy the situation posthaste. Granted, in some households, they may prove to be easier said than done. Just as some parents have trouble enacting change, many children have trouble embracing change. Parents looking to get their children eating right in the new year may benefit from the following pointers.
Get Your Kids Involved with Meal Prep
As any experienced cook can confirm, the adage “No meal tastes better than one you make yourself” rings true. When someone simply places a plate of food in front of you, it’s easy to critique the meal and zero in on things you don’t like. However, when you put in the effort to prepare a meal yourself, you’re liable to be more adventurous and take a chance on foods you wouldn’t ordinarily be keen on trying.
With this in mind, consider getting your kids involved with meal prep. Not only can this be a fantastic learning experience for them, it’s likely to help them appreciate how much time and hard work go into preparing the meals they consume. The more personally invested your children feel in a meal, the more apt they’ll be to try new things. After all, it’s one thing to have your parents tell you to eat foods you’ve never seen before, but it’s quite another to sample culinary creations that you played a role in preparing.
For good measure, you should also get your kids involved with picking the menu. Simply present them with a tasty assortment of nutritious entrees and sides and ask which ones they feel like making. By extension, taking your kids on grocery shopping excursions and limiting them to selecting health-conscious snacks can effectively complement your efforts in the kitchen.
Take Classes in Health-Conscious Cooking
Taking classes in health-conscious cooking can be a great way to learn a wide assortment of healthy recipes that will satisfy even the choosiest of palettes. Cooking classes with an emphasis on early childhood nutrition can prove particularly beneficial to parents whose kids habitually resist healthy eating.
Set a Good Example
Although many children are unlikely to admit this, kids commonly take their cues from parents. So, if they see their caregivers engaging in certain behaviors, they’re likely to think these things are perfectly all right. This is particularly true in the case of eating habits. If you regularly instruct your children to make healthy eating choices but fail to do so yourself, you’re sending a very mixed message. Conversely, if you practice what you preach with regard to eating habits, proper nutrition is liable to seem like a more enticing prospect to your little ones.
Allow Junk Food in Moderation
While junk food shouldn’t occupy a prominent place in your children’s diet, this doesn’t mean it needs to be absent entirely. In an ideal world, your kids would always make the healthiest possible eating choices, but few people are strong enough to pass up the occasional junk food indulgence. Allowing your little ones to regularly have dessert and occasionally enjoy less-than-healthy snacks shouldn’t prove terribly detrimental to their diet, particularly if they’re eating healthy foods on a daily basis.
In fact, the promise of junk food can effectively be used as an incentive for them to eat healthy. For example, you may want to consider requiring your kids to finish a certain amount of their dinner before earning the privilege of having dessert. While your kids shouldn’t be forced to eat foods they absolutely can’t stand, it’s difficult to believe that there are no health-conscious options that agree with their palettes.
As any seasoned parent can attest, getting kids to embrace healthy eating habits can be a tough sell. Since very few children are naturally drawn to healthy foods, the onus is on parents to instill the importance of health-conscious eating habits in their little ones. While this can certainly prove challenging, it’s in every parent’s – and every child’s – best interest to get on board with proper nutrition. Parents seeking out effective ways to encourage kids to eat healthier should consider the measures discussed above.