Any parent knows it can be tricky to live with a fussy eater, especially if that fussy eater is your child. It feels like no matter how often you encourage them to try some veggies or have fruit as a snack, rather than something packed full of sugar; they don’t listen. You’ve even tried convincing them that eating better will boost their energy levels, especially during the winter. But still, deaf ears. As a parent, you want to encourage healthy eating habits for your kids, though, so here are a few ways to turn the tables.
You shouldn’t bribe your kids with unhealthy food, but you can reward them for clearing their plates or trying new foods if they seem reluctant to try anything they are unfamiliar with. Parents can even make a game out of this. Give them a gold star for every new food or meal they try and give them the challenge to reach a certain number of new foods. When they reach ten (or however many you deem right), you can reward them however you want. Rather than make trying new foods a chore, and therefore a negative experience, the idea of rewards will make trying new foods a positive experience, which will make them more likely to enjoy the meals and look forward to the next one.
Be a Role Model
Your kids will always look to you for inspiration on how to behave, and the same goes for the food you eat. If you recoil or pull a face when trying certain foods, they will immediately associate it with something bad. Because of this, you must be a role model in the food that you eat. You can’t preach about healthy eating and then indulge in a chocolate cake all by yourself. Make sure you have plenty of fruit and vegetables in the house and include these foods in snacks and other meals. Your children will see these foods as normal, which should stop them from being reluctant to try them.
Get Them Involved
Often, kids will avoid trying new things because they do not like the look of them. This is an excellent opportunity for you to get them involved in the process. They might not like scrambled eggs, but they might do if they see it’s no different from a regular egg that you’ve whisked about. Likewise, you can encourage them to consume more fruit by introducing them to healthy juicing recipes. All kids love juice and being part of the process for making it will help them associate one of their favorite drinks with a fruit they don’t usually eat. This can change their opinion about it and help them be more adventurous with their meals.
Stick to a Schedule
Scheduling family mealtimes is one of the best ways to encourage your kids to eat better. If they know they will eat at a specific time each day, they will (hopefully) resist the temptation to snack, as they know when their meal will be. In these instances, they will be hungrier when they get to the table, and this will force them to eat more, even if they don’t usually like the fruit or vegetables on the plate. After trying it once, they’ll realize there’s nothing to be scared of, so they will eat it again and again, ensuring it becomes a consistent part of their diet. You can also use these meal times to monitor what they eat and find what works and what doesn’t.
Glamorize Their Meals
Sometimes, your kids just need to be amazed by the food in front of them. They are unlikely to find much to love about a slap of porridge in their bowl, but adding blueberries, strawberries, and mango or bananas can add splashes of color to their food, which will make it more appealing and exciting. If the food looks good, your kids will be more willing to try it, even if they don’t usually eat these types of food. You can make rainbows, cute animals, or even try to recreate their favorite cartoon characters (even if this is a little ambitious) to encourage them to eat and clear their plate.
Your kids will be resistant at first. They would likely much prefer to feast on candy and chocolate. However, they will soon realize that healthy eating is cool. It’s something that will benefit them in many ways, and this will help them develop excellent and positive habits that they can take with them through life and pass onto their children.