How to Teach Kids to Make Healthy Food Choices

June 26, 2019

“Broccoli? Ew!”

Does that sound familiar? If you get less-than-glowing vegetable reviews from your little ones, this blog post is for you. In this article we’ll give you tips to teach your kiddos about nutrition and well-balanced meals, and get them excited about foods that are good for them. We believe that learning how to love wholesome foods and making healthy food choices from an early age are essential for the healthy development of all children—and we want to help you make it happen. 

Tip #1: Get Fun Tableware

Kids love cool stuff. Even reluctant or picky eaters will find mealtime more fun if they have awesome tableware to use. Target, for example, has a wide and vibrant collection of tableware for both girls and boys.

Even better? Visit your local thrift shop with your kid and let them choose a few different designs for cheap! This is just the kind of thing that you can find in thrift stores for cheap and in good condition, since people usually don’t have a use for them once the kids in the home outgrow them.

Tip #2: Don’t Make Food a Fight

Many parents and kids make food a source of conflict, but that only adds stress to family life. Instead, let kiddos have a little bit of control over mealtimes. Let them figure out when they are hungry, and decide when they’re full—don’t force them to finish their plate. Limit unhealthy snacks in the house (and explain to them why they’re unhealthy in terms they’ll understand) and let them choose what they want to eat when possible. If they have a little control, they’ll be a lot happier in the long run.

Tip #3: Get Reading

A fun way to get children thinking about smarter food choices is to integrate food into reading time. Brightly has a great list of books for fussy eaters. Our personal favorite for younger kids is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle as it introduces kids to eating all kinds of foods—fruits, veggies, desserts—in a fun and beautiful way.

Tip #4: Talk About Food

Communicate with kiddos about food whenever you get the chance. At the grocery store, show them different fruits and vegetables, grains, and more, and explain why they’re good for them. At restaurants, talk about what things you both liked or disliked.

Always emphasize the importance of balance—it’s okay to eat cake and ice cream once in a while, but we also have to eat our veggies, fruits, and other nutritious choices. The goal is to help them develop a positive relationship with food based on information and a well-balanced diet.

Tip #5: Start Training Your Sous Chef

Our favorite tip on this list—and perhaps the best way to help kids make healthy food choices—is to cook with them. Start with easy recipes that they like, and teach them a new family recipe every once in a while once they’re old enough.

Bonus idea: document the meals you make together by taking pictures. Assemble the photos into an interactive menu. Then, have your family order off the menu and have Chef Kiddo prepare the meal with you!

Many of us as adults have complex—and often times not so positive—relationships with food, but perhaps, if we teach our children from an early age to celebrate all foods and get them excited about nutritious eating, we can hope that they’ll have a better relationship with food when they’re older.

Looking for more parenting tips for busy moms and dads? Our parenting blog covers big topics like surviving the picky eater phase, tackling daycare drop off, and establishing a morning routine, among many other essential topics.

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