Between juggling homework, after-school activities and playdates, finding time to focus on healthy eating for kids can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. We all know that eating nutritious foods can help children to pay more attention in school, have the energy they need to grow and maintain a healthy weight. Read on for our suggestions of how to encourage healthy eating habits in your kids, without tears and hiding food!
Get Them Involved
One of the first ways to begin promoting healthy eating for kids is to get them involved when it comes to choosing nutritious foods and snacks. Let them help you find healthy foods that they might like on your next trip to the grocery store, or have them help you prepare their lunch for school the night before. You should also allow them to help you when it comes to cooking dinner and limit dining out during the weekdays. For example, if you’re chopping veggies to add to a salad, have them toss them in the salad bowls. Have them help you portion snacks into baggies for tomorrow’s lunch.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning meals and snacks in advance is an easy way to instill healthy eating habits in kids. When you’re running short on time and need to pack a lunchbox, you might find yourself serving prepackaged meals, which often have tons of sodium and artificial flavors. Instead, write down all of the meals you will prepare for the kids for the week ahead of time to prevent serving quick, unhealthy lunches.
Encourage Healthy Snacking
Encouraging healthy snacking is an important step to support healthy eating for kids at home and in school. Children are great at emulating adults, so they probably won’t take your advice to eat more broccoli if they don’t see you adding it to your plate. The key here is to practice what you preach when it comes to eating healthy. Look for snacks that are both delicious, healthy and easy to pack to get started – like low-fat string cheese, trail mix or whole grain pretzels or popcorn!
Make it a Family Meal
Perhaps one of the best ways to promote healthy eating for kids is to make every night (or most nights) a family meal night. Studies show that families who eat dinner together most nights out of the week tend to eat less fast food and consume more nutritious veggies than those who don’t. And, it’s a great way for families to recap their days while adding some routine into everyone’s busy schedules. What could be better than that?
Teach Portion Control
Demonstrating the importance of portion control is crucial when trying to instill habits of healthy eating for kids. It’s essential that children understand that sugary snacks or drinks are okay in moderation and to know when to cut back as well. Kids should also know what a balanced plate looks like, including filling up their plates with the right amounts of carbs, proteins, and veggies. Check out this Handy Portion Control for Kids’ Meals to see proper serving sizes for all different types of foods for kids.