Preschool, Toddler

Tips on how to encourage healthy eating from the start

Abby has been going to PreK now for almost a year. I didn’t opt for the hot lunch delivery at school because the menu was your standard pizza Fridays and mac and cheese Wednesdays. Too much cheese. Not enough fruits, veggies and other healthy sources of plant protein.   So I had to plan and make her lunch everyday.  I lapsed on some days, but I aim to include foods that are “living” and not packaged.  Fruits, some veggies and a lean protein.  I packed lots of healthy options, but I didn’t have a taker at first.  What I learned is that if I got her involved – talking, eating and offering healthy options, I eventually got a taker.

Here’s my list of suggestions to encourage healthy eating in kids:

Talk about healthy foods

At a young age, children start to make decisions about what they like and what they don’t like.  Talking about healthy foods that help them grow big and strong will motivate them to try a piece of that steamed kale on the table.  Engage them in healthy food talk –  talk to your children about what their idea of a healthy balanced snack or lunch could be.

Eat healthy foods

Kids mirror their parents.  Even though they may scoff at the sight of greens at first, the consistency of them seeing you eat healthy causes a monkey see monkey do effect.  At the same time, you’ll feel and notice a difference too!  Providing a variety of veggies at dinnertime will also encourage them to try.  This way they have a variety of veggies to choose.  Let them select what they want instead of pre-serving their plates.  Research shows that the children who are actively involved in choosing what to eat and the amount of food they want are more likely to eat all their food without wasting it.

Offer healthy foods

At meal times always have a veggie dish to offer your child.  If they refuse, be patient but be consistent in offering at the next meal.  Encourage them to try it, at least one bite.  And demonstrate eating first to assure your child that this isn’t poison 😛  Organic is always best.

Presentation is also important.  Look into these dishware/accessories to make eating healthy fun!

I realize that we are so afraid to give little children plates of greens or introduce foods that don’t have a cute animal on the box 🙂  Yes, their palettes are still forming, but it’s best to start them off on a healthy footing. One day I picked up Abby from school and one of the teachers asked, “Was that chia seeds on the strawberries? I can’t believe she ate it!”

So, yes we can!  Believe that kids will eat what you give them.

Aim to follow this flow everyday.  Talk, eat and offer healthy foods.  Talk, eat, offer, repeat 🙂  It not only promotes a healthy foundation for your kids, but could also encourage support of local organic produce.  When children understand where the food comes from and what healthy food does to your body will help our children to be more respectful and value the food they eat, making healthier choices and building positive relationship with food.

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