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5 Ways You Can Start Creating Good Eating Habits for Your Kids

Updated on September 18, 2015
Organic and clean, farmer's markets are usually pesticide free and less expensive then the grocery store.
Organic and clean, farmer's markets are usually pesticide free and less expensive then the grocery store.

the "Real" World

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s become pretty hard to ignore the fact that the world has recently become enveloped in the realm of organic, clean, and homegrown eating. My own mother, who’s recently moved to her own acre, has her own garden filled with summer squashes, berries, and various kinds of lettuce, in addition to the five citrus trees on her property, while my apartment complex rents organic garden space for tenants. Now straddling life between San Diego and Orange County, this method of living is no news to me, nor is it a surprise to find that the three (yes you read that right), the three Whole Foods within a three-mile radius of me are constantly packed to the brim.

While eating healthy, wholesome food is by no means a new way of living; it’s definitely no longer limited to the yoga-pant wearing, or the wealthy housewives of suburbia. As research on pesticides and growth hormones increases, so do the number of parents who are concerned for their children’s health and livelihood. What once was exclusive to only a certain set of people, has since become a way of life that families are desperately trying to embrace, finding more comfort in vegetables and fruits, while relying less so on preservatives and oil.

Yet, with this growing desire to have your family eat well, comes confusion on how to get finicky toddlers to enjoy their greens, while leaving the cookies and ice cream behind.

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Get Your Preschooler Involved

As mentioned above, my mother has her own garden (though it’s more farm-sized) and citrus trees, which she uses to provide our family with fresh vegetables and fruit. Though it’s debatable on most days, I’m an adult now, and on most days graciously accept my brussels and asparagus, while my smaller cousins who frequently spend the night at my mom’s place, do not. Noticing a growing reluctance to eat anything green, my mother makes it a point to take them out to do some of the pruning and watering in her garden. While they walk the flower boxes, my mom helps them pick the vegetables that are ripe and ready to be used for dinner. Having the kids help, increases their interest in the greens on their plate. No longer do they see the bowl of lettuce as a daunting task to be undertaken, but it’s something that they themselves helped create. When the kids help put food on the table, they’re more likely to eat what they’ve helped provide.

Organic and leafy, have your preschooler help pick out your greens for dinner!
Organic and leafy, have your preschooler help pick out your greens for dinner!

Make Mealtime, Fun Time

Going along with the idea to get your child more involved, have your child help with meal prep. Have your toddler add olives, bell peppers, even broccoli to their pizza, turning your regular old carb-fest into a healthier alternative. Consider breaking away from the standard “ants on a log” and instead arrange carrots, peppers, and celery on your child's plate in the shape of a face. If you’re looking for a way to help make a sweet snack healthier, try breaking up graham crackers into smaller pieces (they’re usually pre-perforated) and giving them a dip made of Greek yogurt, honey, and peanut butter for dipping. Sneaking healthful options into your child’s daily meals (such as pizza or pasta), helps them understand that eating wholesome options doesn’t necessarily mean boring and tasteless either.

Juicing can hide the green from your child's diet, while still giving them the added benefit of vegetables!
Juicing can hide the green from your child's diet, while still giving them the added benefit of vegetables!

Juice Juice Baby

Juice is one of the easiest ways to slip up on your child’s health. For the most part, what you’re lead to believe is a fruit juice filled with healthy vitamins and minerals for your toddler, is usually just a fortified drink filled with sugar to make them taste more appealing to your child. Invest in a juicer (I use this one here) and have your kids pick out and mix their own kid-friendly juice concoctions. Be careful to always supervise their tiny hands, however, as the blades on a juicer can be extremely sharp and if left unattended can lead to dire results. Your toddler will be overjoyed to see the colors as they mix together, creating a vibrant juice filled with only natural juices. As an added bonus, spinach has a very minimal—barely there—taste. It’s an excellent way to add in some greens for your toddler. Be warned though, too much spinach can be hard on their tiny human tummies.

Elmo Discusses Colorful Eating for Your Children

Treat Yo' Self

In the wise theory of Tom Haverford from NBC’s, Parks and Recreation, sometimes you just have to treat yourself. The same goes for your children. While some families may be able to maintain a constant organic and wholesome lifestyle, not everyone will, nor will many even try. Your toddler will find out about things such as soda, candy bars, and ice cream no matter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise. Allowing your toddler a treat here and there will help keep them from imploding later on when they throw a tantrum because their friend was allowed to eat a Reese’s Cup, but they weren’t.

Is your preschooler itching for some ice cream? Try adding some fresh berries to a small scoop!
Is your preschooler itching for some ice cream? Try adding some fresh berries to a small scoop!

Though eating wholesome foods is not for everyone, it’s certainly a topic fresh on the tail of quinoa and gluten free meals, and therefore worth the recognition. Clean meals and kid friendly gardens are a thing of the present, and more likely than not, they are here to stay. So grab some fruit and veggies, load up a plate with a smiling face, and dive in eagerly to a new healthy world with your toddler.

Get Your Preschooler Involved

As mentioned above, my mother has her own garden (though admittedly it’s more farm-sized) and citrus trees, which she uses to provide our family with fresh vegetables and fruit. Granted, though it’s debatable on most days, I’m an adult now and as such graciously accept my brussels and asparagus, but my smaller cousins who frequently spend the night at my mom’s place, are not. Any time they spend the night now, my mother makes it a point to take them out to do some of the pruning and watering in her garden. While they walk the flower boxes, my mom helps them pick the vegetables that are ripe and ready to be used for dinner. Having the kids help, increases their interest in the greens on their plate. No longer do they see the bowl of lettuce as a daunting task to be undertaken, but it’s something that they themselves helped create. When the kids help put food on the table, they’re more likely to eat what they’ve helped provide.

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    • Kelsey Farrell profile image
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      Kelsey Elise Farrell 2 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Brandi, I have no kids of my own but watch my tiny cousins frequently (and frequently experience tantrums as a result of trying to get them to eat their veggies)! Thank YOU for the great juicing tips--and for stopping by!

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 2 years ago from Maryland

      Excellent tips! As a mom of 5, healthy eating is always a goal. Thanks for including my page about juicing for kids! :)

    • Kelsey Farrell profile image
      Author

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 2 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Rebecca, good luck and thanks so much for stopping by!

    • profile image

      Rebecca S. 2 years ago

      Thanks for the suggestions! I have the most difficult time getting my kids to eat their veggies. Will definitely have to try some of these out!