Helping Kids Learn to Make Healthy Food Choices in 5 Easy Steps
Getting children to do anything can be difficult, but some would say that dinner time is the worst. From asparagus to zucchini, many kids refuse to eat what we know is best for them and that's why we're sharing these 5 easy steps to help teach kids to make healthy choices.
Let them learn by serving themselves
Kids will learn many useful life lessons when you let them serve themselves at meal time:
- They learn to make decisions about which foods and how much to put on their plates.
- They learn to be more aware of when they are hungry and when they are full.
- They further develop their fine motor skills and hand‐eye coordination.
- They learn to share, take turns, and be responsible for their choices.
Help your child learn to love a variety of foods
Sometimes new foods take time. Kids don’t always take to new foods right away. Offer new fruits and vegetables many times, served a variety of ways. Give your kids just a taste at first and be patient with them.
Kids learn to like new foods by:
- Having them offered over and over
- Having them served with familiar foods
- Seeing friends, older kids, and grown‐ups eating these foods
- Tasting them prepared in different ways
- Choosing foods to try themselves
- Starting with small amounts
Make meals and memories together. It's a lesson they'll use for life!
Kids like to try foods they help make. It’s a great way to encourage your child to eat fruits and vegetables. They feel good about doing something “grown‐up.” Give them small jobs to do. Praise their efforts. Their smiles will light up your kitchen.
Enjoy each other while enjoying family meals
Keep meal time relaxed to nourish the body and help your family make stronger connections. Let your little ones select which foods to put on their plates and how much to eat from the healthy choices you provide.
How to make family meals happy
- Focus on the meal and each other. Turn off the television. Take phone calls later.
- Talk about fun and happy things. Try to make meals a stress‐free time.
- Encourage your child to try foods. But don’t lecture or force your child to eat.
Listen to them when they say they are full
Young kids will eat the amount they need. Toddlers have a strong sense of hunger, appetite, and fullness, so they are likely to stop eating when they are full rather than when the food is gone. And, children's appetite can vary ‐ sometimes they won't eat much and other times they will want seconds.
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