Like most families, you probably have a busy schedule.
It can be hard to make homemade meals every day, and even harder to sit down as a family.
However, you have to find ways to make nutrition education a part of your home routine.
One way or another, children need to develop the habits that will allow them to live to a ripe old age.
This article shows how parents can introduce healthier foods to their children.
If you stick to your guns, even the pickiest eaters will eventually fall in line.
Let’s get healthy!
Health Benefits of Eating Right
There’s a lot at stake when it comes to the food your children eat.
For starters, poor nutrition greatly increases the risk of developing conditions like…
- Heart disease
- Irritable bowel disease (1)
However, the bright side is that if you can get your children to eat better kid foods, it can:
- Stabilize their mood
- Help them focus
- Boost their energy
- Improve their memory
- Keep them fit
But even more importantly, kids who eat right just have more FUN!
After all, when their brains feel amazing, schoolwork is easier to complete and games are more fun to play.
Now for the hard part…
How do you actually get them to eat the foods that will enhance their lives?
8 Tips for Incorporating Nutrition Education Into Your Home Routine
1. Have Family Meals at Least Once a Day
Sitting down for a family dinner is more than just eating together.
Mealtime is a chance to talk with your kids and set an example for healthy eating habits.
Not only that, but family meals help them feel safe and supported, especially when they happen on a regular basis.
Ultimately, kids associate these positive feelings with the food you serve.
It also gives you an opportunity to talk to your kids about nutrition.
Tell them what’s going on in your life, show interest in theirs, and build a stronger connection.
At the same time, talk about the healthy food you ate throughout the day and how good it made you feel.
Talk about the bad foods too, like how that sugary donut you ate made you crash later.
Being open about your experiences with food will help them learn from your mistakes and learn faster.
2. Kids Can Help Fix Meals
Let your kids help prepare meals.
Inevitably, the more they do, the more interested they’ll be in what they’re eating.
Even better, take them to the store and let them pick out food for you.
Do your kids refuse to eat fruit?
Believe it or not, that might change if they get to pull their own papaya off the shelf.
Being involved in each step will help them take ownership over what they’re eating.
If you want to take their nutrition education to the next level, grow a small herb and vegetable garden as a family.
Growing your own food can be satisfying for children, and it’s a great way to bond with the family.
3. Gradually Introduce Healthier Foods
Chances are, your children won’t willingly ditch the junk food in a day.
However, if you gradually introduce healthier kid foods, they’ll probably jump on board faster than you’d think.
Start by putting just a small piece of spinach or wild-caught salmon on their plate.
Being faced with a full serving of fish for the first time can be daunting.
However, even picky eaters will eventually try a single bite with enough encouragement.
4. Make Fruits and Veggies Fun!
It’s a sad truth, but most kids get the majority of their “vegetables” from ketchup, pasta sauce, and other tomato-based products.
That’s not going to cut it!
The first step to making veggies more appealing is to spice them up with homemade dips.
It’s the perfect solution for when your child craves something salty and crunchy.
Hummus and guacamole, for example, are delicious with cucumbers and carrot sticks.
Sayonara potato chips!
For sweet tooths, try keeping fresh fruit on hand, especially berries, which are high in antioxidants.
Blueberries, in particular, are fantastic for the brain and are low in sugar. (2)
5. Give Them Plenty of Healthy Choices
Whenever possible, let children make their own choices.
Nobody likes being told what to do, and as soon as you turn your back, they’ll have their hands in the cookie jar.
However, if eating healthy kid foods feels like it’s their idea and not yours, they might even start enjoying it.
As your kids get older, you won’t always be there, but the temptations will.
That’s why it’s important to give them some freedom while you’re still around to put your two cents in.
6. Don’t Offer Food as a Reward
One of the worst things you can do is to use food as a reward.
Unfortunately, many families make this mistake from a young age.
For example, good grades are rewarded with pizza, and finishing your Brussel sprouts is rewarded with a scoop of ice cream.
However, this is bad training for lifelong habits.
In a nutshell, it trains them to see food as a coping mechanism, rather than fuel for a healthy body and brain.
7. Teach Them to Tell the Difference Between Real Food and Junk Food
The grocery aisles are packed with products that have almost no nutrients, including:
- Frozen meals
- Breakfast cereals
- Sugary dairy products
It’s important for children to be able to tell the difference between junk food and healthy kid foods on their own.
From a young age, teach them that anything that can sit on a shelf for over a year is no health food.
“Non-food” also includes anything that contains MSG, artificial sweeteners, and hydrogenated oils like canola, peanut, cottonseed and soybean oil.
Processed grains are also a big fat NO!
8. Be a Role Model
When it comes down to it, monkey-see-monkey-do is the best education tool.
If you’re constantly swinging between eating habits, your children will imitate that.
On the flip side, they can pick up positive eating habits just as easily.
Remember, if you don’t practice what you preach, your kids aren’t going to buy into healthy eating.
You’re their number one role model, and it’s up to you to lead by example.
Try These Nutritious Kid Foods!
Kids like having snacks in between meals.
However, the most convenient snacks are extremely unhealthy.
For starters, they’re full of added sugars, artificial preservatives, and refined flour.
Even worse, it’s a missed opportunity to get valuable nutrients.
Here’s a list of kid foods that are tasty and healthy.
Kids go nuts for nuts.
That’s great news for parents because macadamia nuts are one of the best plant sources of healthy fats.
Dietary fat, as it turns out, is critical for supporting growth in children.
Almonds are a nutritional powerhouse as well and are packed in magnesium. (3)
Not long ago, doctors used to recommend avoiding nuts due to the risk of an allergic reaction.
However, recent research suggests that exposure to nuts at an early age may actually lower the risk. (4)
Keep in mind, though, that whole nuts can still be a choking hazard.
Whenever you can, use creamy nut butter instead.
2. Fruit and Veggie Smoothie
Fruits tend to be more popular than vegetables among kids.
Veggies, however, are low in sugar and loaded with essential vitamins and minerals.
With the natural sweetness of fruits like papaya, banana, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, your kids won’t even realize that the veggies are in there.
Cucumbers, for example, have a mild taste but are still loaded with potent antioxidants. (5)
Celery is another great addition.
There are countless combinations to try, but make sure to avoid fruit juice because it’s too high in sugar.
3. Baked Sweet Potato Fries
French fries contain inflammatory oils and very few nutrients.
Baked sweet potato fries, on the other hand, are nutrient-dense and keep inflammation levels low.
The trick is to use olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt before putting them in the oven.
4. Celery with Almond Butter and Raisins
Celery can be a tough sell on its own, but it’s a potent anti-inflammatory and is packed with electrolytes.
That’s why “ants on a log” are the perfect kids’ food for picky eaters.
Just cut the celery stalk in half lengthwise and spread on some almond butter.
Then sprinkle on raisins (or cranberries) and you’ve got a complete mini-meal with healthy fats, protein, and carbs.
Avoid using peanut butter if you can because it contains inflammatory compounds called lectins. (6)
5. Turkey and Avocado Roll-up
Turkey and avocado roll-ups are easy to make in a pinch.
Plus, they’re a filling, well-balanced snack that can hold them over until dinner.
Turkey is an excellent source of protein to repair tissues in the body, and avocado is one of the best brain superfoods on the planet.
Just make sure to use a lettuce wrap instead of one made with any kind of flour, especially wheat flour.
Wheat contains gluten, which is known to cause gut inflammation and make mental health issues like anxiety and autism worse. (7)
6. Kale Chips
Kale is a superfood in its own right.
After drizzling kale with olive oil and baking it in the oven, sprinkle on some sea salt and nutritional yeast for a slightly “cheesy” flavor.
If you have any more questions about incorporating healthy kid foods into your home routine, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.