Kids are terrible when it comes to getting them to eat healthy meals; after all, when you were a kid, didn’t you love chips, crisps and fast food? We all did – and still do – but it is worth teaching them early on that healthy eating does not necessarily mean boring. However, the best way to get them to eat healthy is to understand why they are picky eaters in the first place, and the reasons may surprise you.
1: Early Tastes are an Influence
When a child is very young, they become attached to flavours and tastes that they have experienced in the first few formative years, so make sure they get a great variety of different flavours when they are very young, as this will have an influence on their future eating habits.
2: Parental Desire to Please
As a parent, you are conditioned to nurture your children; it’s your job, and you want to do it well. So, rather than upset the child, you may choose to succumb to their wishes and feed them food that they already like, rather than try and introduce them to new ideas. Try to overcome this by mixing new, healthy food with less of the old, regular stuff, and encourage them to make the transition.
3: Ready Meals are Easy
We’re all guilty of it; after a hard day at work you can’t be bothered to cook up a meal, so you simply throw a ready meal in the oven or microwave and, guess what, everybody is happy! The child is especially happy as he or she gets something the love and want, but the truth is it’s never the healthy option. Why not consider preparing vegetables and other healthy ingredients in advance, so it takes less time when you need to make the meal?
4: Peer Pressure
Kids want to eat what their friends eat, and that’s the way it always has been! The problem is changing your child’s eating habits when others are not doing so, and it can be very difficult to achieve. Perhaps the trick is to invite friends around and introduce them to new food, so they don’t think they are the only one who has to have green beans on his plate!
5: Kids are Rebellious
Back to those green beans, and you can be sure that, if you force them upon the child, they will become less likely to accept them. Kids want to rebel at times – it makes them feel as though they have got the upper hand for once! If they refuse, offer them a deal that if they try it you will reward them – you might be surprised how well it works!
6: The Importance of the Family Meal
One way to encourage children to eat what you are eating is to make sure you sit down for a proper family meal. It is a habit you should get into, and one that also gives you quality time with the kids. This way, you can introduce them to new and healthy food a little at a time, and it will become something they expect.
7: Encourage them to Cook
One great way of getting kids to enjoy new and healthy food is to get them to help with the cooking. For example, kids love pizza – and it’s tempting to order one in for convenience sake – but why not get the kids to make their own? Pizza can be a great way of getting them to eat healthy vegetables, so give them a selection of toppings, make the bases, and have them try their own ideas. It’s fun, too!
8: Keep Healthy Food in Stock
Saying that you don’t have any is much easier than saying you can’t have any, so try and keep only healthy food in stock. The kids should soon learn that if they are going to eat, it’s best to eat what is available! Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind!
9: Educate Your Kids
A lot of learning takes place in the home, so make sure you take the time to inform your kids as to why you are encouraging them to eat healthily. Explain that it is for their own good, that you want them to have a great life, and tell them why certain foods are healthier than others.
10: Take them Out
For a treat once in a while, take your kids out to eat at a local restaurant. They can only order from the healthier meals on the menu, and they will feel that they are getting something special.
Kids eat what they want if they can, so you need to make sure you are keeping a close eye on them; follow the above tips, and you’ll soon find things a great deal easier!
Author Bio – Simon Barker, a contributor at Air Fryer Hub, is a keen cook and likes to encourage the kids to join in.