Making Healthy Food Choices for Kids

Whether you are raising one child,Guest Posting 5 or are just beginning to think about starting a family, one thing is for certain — raising healthy eaters can be a challenge. With so many unhealthy food options, chicken nuggets and french fries can often seem much more appealing to a child than a plate full of fruits and vegetables. Perhaps one of the most important things to consider when raising healthy eaters is flexibility. Additionally, setting a great example is key in raising healthy eaters. Here are our tips for raising healthy eaters.

What to Eat: Turning Your Picky Eaters into Healthy Eaters

Foods are constantly changing. What is trendy and in-season is going to be constantly changing. However, what is going to be nutritional is always going to be the same. As a parent, it is important to stick to family mealtimes and teach your children the importance of consuming whole, real and when possible, organic foods.

How to teach your children what whole foods are:How many ingredients are found in the food? A food that is truly whole should only have one ingredient.

Is the food grown from a plant or did it come from a plant? Foods that are whole are grown and not manufactured.

Can you picture the food what it looked like in it’s natural state before you purchased it? If you can’t, it’s definitely not a whole food.

As a parent, what you eat, how you eat it and why you choose to eat it is going to be very important in raising healthy eaters. Remember, your children are watching what you do and learning from you.

Children, even more so than most adults do, enjoy and often times require a routine. In fact, research shows that families who eat together are more likely to stick together. Teens are less likely to develop risky behaviors, eating disorders, abuse drugs and alcohol and tend to be better socially adjusted all from what seems like something so simple — having dinner as a family. Here’s how to make family mealtime even more enjoyable:

Set realistic boundaries for mealtimes and the foods choices you will be having at these meals. When raising healthy eaters, provide your children with the following information: what, where and when. Your child can decide on how much they are going to eat.

Always provide at least one food that is high quality, but is something that your child enjoys. You may be in charge of deciding what is going to be served for dinner, but remember your child is going to decide if they like it and how much of it they are going to eat. When trying new things, remember your child may only try a bite or two. It may take time for them to enjoy a particular food.

Sometimes hunger will even play a role in whether or not a child is going to enjoy your meal.Keep in mind that a child’s taste buds are different than an adult’s taste buds. It may take a child many times to decide whether or not the enjoy something unlike an adult who can often decide after a bite or two. Be sure to offer your child a food that they may have disliked once the opportunity to try it again and in different recipes. You may be surprised at how your child has changed his/her mind.

Make mealtime fun and relaxing. Meal times should be pleasant. Encourage conservation with your child. Make sure the energy is positive. A stressful environment is not good for you or the health of your child. Stress can make food absorption less than optimal and can mess with your metabolism.

When raising a healthy eater, never use food to punish, restrict or reward your child. Food should never be used as a punishment or as a reward; food is designed to nourish the body. Teach your child, even at an early age, to have a healthy relationship with food. This is done by not associating food with positive or negative reinforcement. If you are looking for a reward for positive behavior, always opt for non-food related rewards.

Know when to enforce healthy eating. At birthday parties and around the holidays, healthy eating can be a challenge. When it comes to special events, be flexible but still have a plan. Give your child a choice between two different whole food-based treats to celebrate special events. Be sure to let your child know that birthdays and holidays aren’t necessarily a day to abandon all healthy choices. In fact, on birthdays you should be celebrating good health.

During the holidays, be sure that your child understands why we celebrate holidays and that holidays are not an excuse to overindulge. If your child is old enough, allow them to participate in the meal prep for a holiday meal. This will help them to appreciate all of the hard work and effort that goes into preparing a healthy meal. This is bound to make raising a healthy eater easier.

How Can You Integrate Healthy Eating Into Your Family’s Busy Lifestyle?

If you are thinking that you are way too busy to integrate healthy living into your family’s chaotic schedule, you are wrong. Even the busiest of families can make time for healthy eating; especially when it comes to raising healthy eaters.

Remember you spend all day at work so that you can provide for your family. Your hard-earned money should go towards food items that are food for your family. Sure food prep may take a little time, but there is no sense is throwing your hard-earned cash away by purchasing fast food and processed foods. Healthy, whole foods are good for your child’s mind and body. Take a little time each week to write down your child’s as well as your entire family’s nutrition goals.Remember, raising a healthy eater does not happen overnight.

Start slow and work in the direction of achieving your goals as a healthy family. Taking baby steps will help you to achieve your goals. Does your family drink way to many soft drinks? This might be the perfect place to start! Start by replacing one glass of soda a day with water and work your way so you have eliminated soda from you and your family’s diet.

Find inspiration. Maybe it’s your goal to lose a few pounds or perhaps it’s your goal to ensure that your child does not have to struggle with weight gain issues. Whatever your motivation is, use it to obtain short-term goals and eventually achieve healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

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