What mom doesn’t want their child to eat healthy foods? Yet, it often feels like a struggle when you’re trying to convince your toddler to eat just one bite of the broccoli, and she won’t even touch it, and screams that it’s on her plate. Some parents choose to give in and feed chicken nuggets and mac and cheese—no judgement here— but that can lead to other troubles down the road.
You Eat it First
Want your child to enjoy some sort of green vegetable? You need to eat them too. You can’t expect a child to eat something his or her mom and dad won’t even touch. Serve everyone the exact same things, and make sure you eat the things you want your child to eat.
Introduce Healthy Foods Early
It’s never too early to introduce broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and even asparagus. Let your little one explore the food before he or she is ready to eat it. Just by touching it, licking it, and even throwing it around, your little one can get a quick taste for a new food. Kids touch and mouth things before they ever eat them. Introduce as much as you can as early as possible.
Have Family Meals
Family mealtime is one of the best ways to introduce new foods and let your child experience a variety of options. By making mealtime social with everyone else, it takes the pressure off your child to perform by eating for you. Family mealtime is about conversation and enjoying each other’s presence. Your kids will see you eating and see others eating and enjoying their food.
Offer Water Alongside Meals
While juice, milk, and soda are popular drink choices. You want to create healthy habits in your kids. Offer water during meals and let them have a serving of milk or juice afterward. This helps them to not fill up on liquids before they’ve eaten. Water helps kids stay hydrated and they are less likely to suck this one down as quickly.
Did you know you can test your child’s DNA to learn all about their nutritional needs? You can discover their predisposition for obesity, vitamin deficiencies, and even if they like or dislike bitter foods. With just a simple DNA nutrition test you can gain insights to better prep for meal plans based on what foods your child is more likely to enjoy and which ones they might be averse to.
Let Kids Choose Things to Put on Their Plate
If your child is old enough, let them choose what goes on your plate from the meal you prepared. One child might end up with rice and veggies, while another might enjoy meat and rice. You can also add just a tiny bite of a new food to eat plate. That way everyone is introduced to something new at each meal. Don’t expect your kids to eat a huge serving of something they’ve never had before. Give them tiny portions to ensure it’s not too overwhelming or scary.
If your child eats fresh fruit, but doesn’t prefer cooked green beans, that’s okay. Keep trying and offering the new food until eventually they at least try it. Some kids like raw veggies, but don’t prefer them cooked. Some like them seasoned and roasted, but not steamed. Keep trying, keep offering, and let them experience the new food in different ways.
Don’t Use Dessert as a Reward to Finish the Whole Meal
Overeating is a big problem. Not learning your own hunger cues can set you up for failure as you grow up. If you want to encourage healthy eating in your child, let them decide when they are full. If they eat two bites and that’s it, trust them. If they get hungry later, you can always offer the food they left on their plate. If they’ve made a good effort to eat their meal, and you have dessert planned for the night, it’s okay to let them have a little. But using dessert as a reward for clearing their plate can cause a habit of overeating and lead to other health issues in the future.
It’s possible to raise kids who enjoy a variety of healthy foods. Don’t force it and don’t let it become a point of contention. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, meats, and healthy whole grains. Enjoy the occasional treat, and let your kids learn to feel their own hunger and fullness cues.