Top Five Ways to Raise a Healthy Eater

Eat Healthy

There is no way around this. Your child is going to do what you do no matter what you say. When she sees you eating healthy food and enjoying it (or at least not making faces) she will be more inclined to do the same. Besides, you're giving healthy food to the kids so why would you want to have to prepare something different for the grown folks?

Go Green

Older kids can grasp the concept green eating. Let kids know that by eating fruits, vegetables, and other foods with minimum processing (ie. the healthy stuff) that they are saving the earth's resources. Let kids know that it takes energy to dry that pasta and make the box for their mac-n-cheese. There is little wasted on a stalk of broccoli!

Never Give Up

It's only natural that kids like things that are sweet. Starting out young giving an infant tastes of less favorite foods pays off later. Sometimes we really do need to acquire a taste for a particular food. Kids may need as many as 15 to 20 tries to like something. Even if a baby spits out pureed peas, that is no reason to take them off the menu. Keep introducing foods. There is nothing wrong with making an older child eat one or two bites of even the most hideous of foods - say spinach.

Choose Your Battles

Try your best to make the table a peaceful sanctuary. You do not want to be constantly fighting with your child at the family table. There is no law against eating green veggies at breakfast time if that is when your child is most amenable to trying new things. Dinner time is generally where the most non-kid friendly foods seem to crop up and this is also the time when kids may be most tired. Think about your choices ahead of time and plan accordingly.

Let Go

Believe it or not, it's one of the best things you can do for your children. Give them the power to make their own right choices. You've given them a good example, stocked the house with healthy foods, educated them about their health and the environmental impact of their eating habits, exposed them to a wide variety of foods, and created a peaceful mealtime ritual. What more can you do?

If you try to control every morsel that goes into your child's mouth, you are going to end up doing more harm than good. Your job is to lay the groundwork and then trust kids to go out in the world with the ability to make good choices. Let them pig out on Krispy Kreme after the big game. Let them gorge on pizza and chocolate bars at the sleepover. What matters most is how they eat most of the time!

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Maddie Ruud profile image

Maddie Ruud 9 years ago from Oakland, CA

Great hub, Lela, and such an important topic.  I'd just add that emphasizing everything in moderation helps children develop a healthy attitude towards food, in regards to eating disorder prevention (about which I'm very passionate).  The concept of "good" and "bad" foods sets eating up as a moral dilemma, which creates all sorts of problems down the road, especially in adolescence when children strive to reject their parents' morality and form their own.

Bring fun back into food.  Family dinners are a wonderful time to bond with your children, and should never be a punishment!

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