Ways to Help Your Kids Make Their Own Healthy Food Choices
By: Jennifer Scott, Spiritfinder
When your children are growing up, it’s vital that they receive proper nutrition. Sometimes it can be easier to grab something unhealthy to feed them when they’re hungry and you’re busy, but when this becomes a habit, it can become detrimental to your child’s well-being. Worse yet, they learn this habit and end up making unhealthy choices on their own.
Ensure that your child is getting their necessary nutritional intake is by providing them with healthy meals and snacks when possible. This will help them make their own healthy food choices as their lives go on.
Make a switch
Some children like to eat the same thing every day, while others may enjoy a slight switch in their lunchtime sandwich selection. To satisfy any child’s taste, you can use different pieces of bread that are low in saturated fat and made with no hydrogenated oils. Try also shredding carrots or zucchini (just like you do with cheese) and adding it to their meals; your child might not even notice and may enjoy the surprise in their lunchbox. This might also increase the likelihood that they’ll enjoy snacking on vegetables between meals.
Let them help
You might think that your child will view packing their lunch as a chore, but they could very likely find it fun — now they get a say in what they are eating for lunch! Make sure the refrigerator and pantry are well-stocked with healthy food options (pro-tip from Redfin: organize your refrigerator shelves in a way that allows your child to find the healthiest options first). Give them some ideas on how to make nutritious food delicious and fun, and then let them make it with you.
Purchase the right supplies
Many children are picky about their food, so it’s important to have plenty of options available for them. For example, if you’d like to encourage them to eat a serving of vegetables, but they hate broccoli, have alternatives like carrots and snap peas on hand. Other kids can’t stand it when different foods on their plate touch one another. You can simply prevent them from complaining by purchasing Tupperware that has compartments. You can even get them in your child’s favorite color or let them pick their own. They can have fun filling up the compartments with the healthy options of their choosing.
“For kids” does not mean “healthy”
Many people believe that when there is a label on a product that reads “for kids” that it is healthy. However, it doesn’t guarantee it has healthy levels of sugar, salt, or other additives and preservatives. The best way to assess whether a product is suitable for children is to look at its nutritional facts. If the ingredients are truly healthy, then that is perfect for your child’s lunchbox. Whole foods are best when possible; if you can’t pronounce the ingredients listed on the package, it’s likely that it’s not nutritionally sound. Talk to your kids about consuming this information. There’s a good chance they’ll take an interest in figuring out the nutritional content on their own, even if they don’t fully grasp what every single ingredient means.
Make your own
Many children love products like Lunchables. Although they are easy to make and appear relatively healthy, they are filled with highly-processed, unhealthy ingredients. Instead, make your own, and have them help, adding items such as whole-grain crackers and reduced-fat cheese. For personal pizzas, try using plain, whole-wheat pitas with marinara sauce, grated cheese, and sliced vegetables for a healthy topping. Consider rotating out different proteins, vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates to keep your child’s taste buds from getting bored. Your children will love it, and it is a much healthier option.
Veggies over fruit
It’s easy to remember to pack fruit in your child’s lunchbox, but what about the veggies? Many people put fruit and vegetables in the same category, but they have a lot of differences, including their nutrients. Make sure to include veggies in your child’s lunchbox every single day, even if you also give them a piece of fruit (which can be used as their healthy, sweet snack!).
It’s so important to make sure that your children understand the benefits of eating healthy. These tips are easy, and will help your child grow up to be big, strong and smart! Just remember to communicate with them and help them understand why a nutritious diet is so important.
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