How to encourage kids to eat healthy
By Erin Browder RD,CD,CDE
Nutritionist with the Diabetes Education & Nutrition Clinic at VMC
Eating habits are a learned behavior and follow children into adulthood. Help your kids choose wisely. Here's a baker's dozen tips to get your kids to eat healthier.
- Plan meals with your kids. They'll be more apt to eat healthier choices when they've made some decisions about the meals.
- Look for children's cookbooks with kid-friendly recipes and simple cooking lessons.
- Plant a garden with your kids. They'll likely want to eat what they harvest. (Container gardens are just as effective for small yards.)
- Keep introducing fruits and veggies. Nutritionists say kids need to see new food 4-5 times before they'll try it.
- Make casseroles with pasta, cheese and sauce and gradually introduce more minced vegetables in the sauce.
- Add chopped carrots or zucchini to spaghetti sauce.
- Provide sweeter "healthy foods" like corn, strawberries, mandarin oranges, blueberries and sweet peas.
- Purée spinach and add to ground beef in hamburgers, gradually increasing the amount each time.
- Serve mac and cheese made with rice or wheat pasta. Choose a brand that isn't overly dark, so they won't notice.
- Finely chop red bell peppers and tomatoes and mix into meatloaf and Sloppy Joes.
- Blend bananas and anti-oxidant-rich blueberries into smoothies for a healthier dessert.
- Use whole grain bread for grilled cheese sandwiches and french toast. Your children won't notice the darker color.
- Be a role model. If you eat healthy, your kids will more likely follow suit.