If you’ve ever tried to get a child to eat something they decided in advance they don’t like, you know what it’s like to feel crazed. You encourage them to take a small bite, but all they do is nibble a piece so small you’re sure your atoms are larger. They won’t give it a chance, and they won’t even pretend to try harder. Their stubbornness is unmatched, and you might just give up before they do. They’ll win, and you’ll never get them to eat that food again.
It’s okay for your kids to dislike certain foods, and it’s all right not to force them to eat things they genuinely dislike. The problem here is they haven’t tried it to know if they like it or not. Now is the time to focus on getting the kids to eat healthier before it’s too late, but how do you do it? It’s not easy, but it is possible.
Create A Meal Schedule
Ask a stay-at-home parent what happens during any break from school, and they’ll tell you their kids are starving every moment of the day. A lot of that is boredom, but kids do need to eat every three hours or so. It’s time to make a meal schedule that includes all three meals and a few snacks throughout the day. Once you have a schedule for the kids, you’re going to get them on it. It’s the first step in healthy eating.
Now that you have a schedule, it’s time to predetermine what the kids have when they eat those snacks. If you want them to eat healthy, you’ll teach them they can have a fruit or a vegetable at the correct snack times. Don’t give them any other choices. Snacks are not cookies or cake. They are fruits and/or veggies, but they can pick the specific items they want at snack time. This gives them a rule and forces them to eat healthy during snack time, but it also helps them feel they’re in control when they make their own choices.
Control Your Schedule
The key here is to avoid allowing your schedule to control you. You have a busy life with kids, and it’s easy to fall into the routine of eating fast food or letting the kids eat what’s easy when you’re not home. This is when it becomes helpful to consider something like organic meals delivered to your home. You can try out a few until you find the one you like the most and add it to the rotation. To make this work, plan ahead to cook your own healthy meals on nights you’re home early and take advantage of healthy delivered food on nights you’re out late or in a big rush to get to practice, events, and other activities.
One way to get the kids to eat a little healthier is to be tricky. Add healthy foods in here and there. Substitute their favorite ice cream for frozen yogurt. Replace their favorite children’s yogurt with Greek yogurt. Grill their chicken nuggets instead of frying them. Put a little peanut butter and mini chocolate chips on top of apple slices. They’re getting good food that’s still a version of the not-so-good food they usually like. It’s a start, and most kids don’t even realize it.
Let Your Kids Cook
Kids are proud of their accomplishments. Let them help you cook dinner and see if that inspires them to eat it. Let them help make the veggies. They’ll want to try their own food, which is going to make them try food they might not otherwise try. They might like it. They might not. The point is they’re trying new food.
Set A Good Example
If you’re not setting a good example of healthy eating, the kids aren’t learning. Eat what you want them to eat rather than forcing them to eat veggies while you forgo eating them. Be a role model, and do it with them. Kids learn from you, and they want to be like you.
Your kids aren’t going to learn to eat healthy overnight. It’s a process that might take a few weeks to perfect, but you can do it. Stay firm, stay strong, and remember you are the parent and they are not. Your kids do what you say, and that’s the final rule. Perhaps it takes reminding them that you’re in control of the electronics, the television, and their ability to go places with their friends when they refuse to follow the healthy eating rules at home.