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How to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy Foods - A Balanced Diet For Children
As a parent, you are responsible for the food your children eat. Instilling healthy eating habits while your kids are young can influence their health for years to come. Kids who grow up eating healthy foods and who are physically active usually keep these habits up in adulthood.
You can give your children the best chance of growing up healthy.
A healthy diet for children includes:
- 4-6 fruits or vegetables
- 3-6 grains
- 2-4 milk or alternatives
- 1-2 meat or alternatives
Try to offer all four food groups in each meal and at least two per snack.
Just remember, you decide what your kids eat, they decide if they eat and how much. Force feeding a picky eater is asking for trouble. It can cause more rebellion, a battle of wills. Kids need to learn what it feels like to be full. Forcing them to eat past fullness now can cause obesity later.
Instead, offer well rounded meals and make a rule that they must taste everything on their plate. That is it, just one little taste, then let it go. Keep in mind that they need to try a new food 15-20 times before they get used to the taste.
Vegetables are usually the hardest food to get into them. One thing that helps is growing a garden. Kids love mucking around in the garden and picking their own snacks. Everything tastes better when you grow it yourself. My kids love homegrown peas, carrots, berries and cherry tomatoes.
Even the pickiest eater has a few fruits and vegetables that they will eat if they are hungry enough. If there is something you know they like, keep it handy in the fridge. When they are starving right before dinner, you can let them crunch on these while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Some children loathe meat. They can still get their protein intake in other foods. Some non-meat child friendly foods are: eggs, cheese, tuna, seeds, nuts, beans or peas, or peanut butter. Dairy products also have lots of protein in them. Try making smoothies with yogurt to give them a milk and a protein serving. You can even mix in a little tofu.
The grain group is usually the easiest to get into your kids. Most children love crackers, toast, pasta or rice. The tricky part is getting them to like the healthier whole grain variety. If you are having this issue, try mixing your grains at first. For example, if they like white rice, try adding a little brown rice. Gradually add more until they are eventually eating just brown.
I find the easiest way to boost their whole grain intake is to add whole wheat flour to my baking. I usually use straight brown flour in cookies, and half white and half brown in muffins and loaves. They tend to turn out a little drier if you use too much brown. You can even sneak in a little ground flax seeds or bran and they won't even notice.
What is the hardest type of food to get your kids to eat?
If all else fails, sneak it in
Yes, kids do need to see real vegetables on their plates. They need to keep tasting them until they (hopefully) begin to like them. Remember, you are creating lifelong eating habits. Kids who never eat vegetables will likely grow into adults who never eat vegetables.
But sneaking fruit or vegetables into their meals and baked goods is alright too. You can`t get too many vegetables into those little growing bodies.
My favorite thing about these cookbooks is how they take the fat out of common baked goods like brownies or chocolate chip cookies, and add vegetable purees. This lowers the fat content and calories, and adds vitamins and fibre. That is good for your whole family.
So, in conclusion, get those healthy foods into your children any way you can. Healthy kids are happy kids!