7 healthy eating habits for kids of all ages
So your kid won’t eat the pile of greens on their plate, what’s new?
They pass the mound of vegetables every time, hoping you don’t notice. But, you do, and you’re getting frustrated. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. This unavoidable struggle of finding (and maintaining) healthy eating habits for kids happens with all children. Any parent who tells you otherwise is lying.
Between balancing work and your home, you’re realizing you need to step up your game in the healthy eating department.
But, you’re already rushing out the door every morning and too tired to prepare a healthy meal every night, let alone sit there trying to make them eat it.
To combat your busy schedules, some parents hire nannies for transportation, date nights, vacations, or that constant household mess. But, nannies can also help with snacks, lunches, dinner, and basic healthy eating habits for kids and parents too.
We’ve scoured the internet and compiled 7 effective healthy eating habits for kids. These tips work for children of all ages. Parents can even take a bite out of these (pun intended).
1. Parents, stop buying junk food (or at least hide it better)
Okay, so this first tip sounds easier said than done. We all love munching on cookies or inhaling ice cream now and then. And I’m sure we’ve all been grocery shopping with kids that suddenly see the Paw Patrol macaroni or bright colored packs of sweets.
It’s no wonder they are attracted to it, honestly. Every parent has gone through this. So I repeat, you are not alone. Parents need to fight the urge to give in. In the end, you’re doing more harm than good.
Here’s a little secret. Walk along the perimeter of the grocery store. The most healthy products are found there anyways.
Note: If you must have those yummy cookies, pick a hiding place your kids can’t find.
2. Start healthy eating habits as early as possible
It’s never too late to start eating healthy. According to USDA, “From the ages of 2 to 5, children’s bodies grow and develop in ways that affect the way they think, eat, and behave.” So if you want to make this easier on yourself (and your child) in the long run, then start early.
Your kid will eventually get to the age where they negotiate meals. Starting healthy habits early will turn negotiations about which vegetable they want instead of arguing why they can’t have Paw Patrol macaroni- again.
Hiring a nanny early in your child’s life can help with this transition. Make sure to explain to your nanny your healthy eating habits and routine so they can continue it when you’re away.
3. Home-cooked meals are the best
Fresh home-cooked meals are the easiest (and cheapest) way to start eating healthy. Get the children involved with cooking. They are more likely to eat a meal they helped prepare.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. You’re tired after work, and you’re not always prepared for making a fresh home-cooked meal. The solution is easy. If you’re one of these parents, then add cooking to your nanny’s contract.
Nannies can even do grocery shopping for you. They can make the trip to the local store fun by letting the kids help do the shopping.
Note: If you don’t have a nanny, try planning meals during the week. Find recipes that use the same (or similar) ingredients.
4. If you’re eating unhealthy, your child will too
You’re caught red-handed with a fist full of Fritos. Now you have to explain why adults are allowed to eat junk, but that junk isn’t for kids. Talk about confusing!
Lead by example, and the same goes for their nanny, babysitter, siblings, and teachers. Control your urges and show them how to eat healthily.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then set realistic goals for the kids and yourself, make gradual changes to build a healthy eating lifestyle over time. Doing this will make your new healthy lifestyle stick with them as adults.
Sometimes our desires can consume us but do your best not to backtrack all the progress you’ve made. Keeping a healthy eating routine will maximize results.
5. Keep it positive and be patient
Let’s face it; there will be foods your child will refuse to eat. Resist the urge to get upset. Never force your child to eat something they don’t want to. The secret is to talk to them, show them you’re eating it too. Allow them to touch and smell it and remind them of the importance of eating healthy.
A child usually needs to try a new food up to 30 times before finally eating it. Eating healthy is all about repetition. If you stick to your routine, they will follow- eventually.
There are debates about using a reward system to get children eating healthy. This article from the Washington Post says bribing them can work to your advantage. On the other side, some argue that using rewards fails to teach children to make healthy choices on their own.
6. Mix it up
When planning your snacks, don’t be afraid to try new fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables should fill half of your plate. Make your meals colorful with a variety of vegetables and don’t forget the fruits. Control portion sizes with fun plates that separate the correct portion sizes.
Note: Avoid lots of juices or milk before and during meals.
7. Meals are for family time
According to a recent study, “there is a positive relation between frequent family meals and greater consumption of healthy foods.”
Make it a routine to always sit together as a family. On top of having quality family time, children can learn from their parent’s healthy habits.
Don’t allow any electronics at the dinner table and that includes the parents. Instead of playing on a tablet, phone, or computer, they can focus on the delicious meal and the family.
Raising health-conscious children nourishes their overall development and creates healthier lifestyle patterns as adults.
Every parent strives to teach healthy choices for their little ones. However, this comes more natural for some. But, if you show your child who’s boss, they will catch on.
Kids will learn the importance of eating healthy once you show them. For those of you struggling with cooking, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Most nannies don’t mind helping in the cooking department. So, be sure to put it in your nanny contract.
We’ve covered 7 effective healthy eating habits for kids. These helpful tips can help your whole family make healthy choices. We can provide suggestions for days, but the only way you’ll get your family eating healthy is to take action.
If you follow these simple tips, your life and your kid’s lives are bound for new healthy habits that will last a lifetime.