It’s a classic parent-child power struggle to argue over food. “I don’t want to eat that!” “You can have dessert if you will just eat your vegetables first.” There are times, like when they are at school, we have less control over what they eat. That’s why it’s important to help them like and see the value in eating healthy now!
1. Be open about “why”
When your child asks why they have to eat their vegetables, try to avoid simply saying “because I said so.” Talk about how the healthy food will help them grow big and strong, have more energy, and keep them from getting sick. Explain the benefits of a healthy diet in age-appropriate ways so they better understand it.
2. Talk about what they like and don’t like, and try to find healthy foods they love.
Make sure they know that, while they may be expected to eat what you pack, they can tell you whether or not they like a specific item. Did they like the carrots you sent today better than the green beans you sent yesterday? Are apples and peanut butter boring to them, while mixed berries are more fun? If possible, let them pick out produce in the grocery store to have packed in their lunches throughout the week! Encourage them to try new foods, especially ones similar to what they already love. This will help them transition to more and more vegetables as time goes on, and make them more interested because they get a choice.
3. Model eating healthy foods and enjoying it!
If you say you love carrots and hummus and model it by eating it in front of them, your children will want to eat it too! If you say you hate eating salad, there’s a good chance your child will too. If you can, try to eat meals together on a regular basis, so your children can see you eating healthy food during a meal. When they see you eating chips all day and drinking lots of soda, they will emulate those same habits. The good news is that when they see you eating a handful of nuts or vegetables and drinking lots of water, they will emulate those habits too!
Feeding your children healthy foods does not have to be a struggle. Just use these three helpful tips and work together with your children to build them a healthier future!