Kids often eat badly. I have gotten a lot of emails from families that say that the biggest challenge that they have with their kids is eating well. I am very fortunate in some ways that my kids do eat a lot of healthy food and don’t get the joke about kids not liking brocolli.
But at the same time my son is horrible for never wanting to eat dinner and then snacking in the evening. Jaiden may be eating grapes and apples (cut up of course, dad has to do some work) in bed but the fact that my son is often missing out on all the goodness of a proper dinner does bother me some.
So as a fitness guy and as a father interested in getting the kids to eat everything and not just some things I thought that I would research around and see what i could find out about getting kids to eat better and here are a bunch of ideas
Your responsibility in your childrens eating
Changing the family’s diet begins with two realizations. The first is that teaching your children about good nutrition is as important as making sure they learn good manners, get good grades in school, get to bed on time, etc. Poorly fed children are sick more often, have increased risk of developing degenerative diseases at earlier ages, and tend to have problems sooner or later.
Many children find it difficult to concentrate and learn as a result of poor nutrient status, too. I don’t know a responsible parent that wants any of these things to happen, but the reality is that ignoring the importance of good nutrition will almost guarantee that one of these outcomes will occur sooner or later.
Another realization is that children can be very resistant to change and many times would rather do something other than what you want them to do. You must remember that you are the parent and that you make the decisions. There is a good reason why we don’t send children out to get a job and to establish their own households at the age of seven! They need direction and structure, and your job is to provide it!
Tips to get you kids to eat more fruit
1. It can help to start early, offering your toddler lots of different types of foods and letting them see you eat and enjoy a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Although infants often get a lot of fruit and vegetable baby foods, once they start eating table food, what you eat is going to be a big influence on what your kids like to eat. If you rarely serve vegetables with meals or eat fruit, don’t be surprised if your kids develop the same tastes.
2. One trick that often works for both fruits and vegetables is to find foods that your kids already like to eat, like smoothies, muffins, yogurt, etc., and find recipes that allow you to add fruits or vegetables to them, like banana or zucchini muffins.
3. The easiest way to get some fruit into your child is to switch from soda and fruit drinks to 100% fruit juice. Although eating whole fruit is better because it also has fiber, 4-6 oz of 100% fruit juice for children 1-6 years old and 8-12 ounces for older children is an easy way to ‘eat’ 1-2 servings of fruit.
4. Other helpful tips to get fruit into your kids might be to:
- Let your kids pick the fruits they want to eat when you go shopping
- Mix fruit pieces in with yogurt or serve them with a dip
- Make fruit smoothies
- Offer a fruit salad, with a mix of watermelon, grapes, strawberries, etc. as a dessert or snack
- Make a snack mix with raisins, nuts and cereal
- Add chopped fruit, especially berries and bananas, to your child’s cereal
- Try dried fruits
- Mix in some chopped fruit with jell-o
Add more foods to your kids diet
The No Thank You Bite: Having trouble getting your toddler to eat the proper foods? Our child was saved from a lifetime of cereal by the “No Thank You Bite,” taught to us by a baby-sitter. It became a rule to eat at least one bite of everything on her plate, and gradually, she discovered that some of them weren’t so bad. At first, it wasn’t easy to enforce the rule — we had a few timeouts and lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth — but we stuck to our guns, and she wasn’t allowed to refuse the No Thank You Bite (except for dessert). Eventually, the rule was set for her, and she stopped fighting it. It also helps to introduce new foods every three or four days — this way, your child is used to giving new things a try. Don’t force more than a bite, but do insist on one.
Shake up your kids diet: Your children might benefit from a break in routine and from a break from rules. For example, a fun project might be to offer your child food from other countries. Take out the atlas and find the country on a map. Look in the encyclopedia for information about the customs and traditions. Children can even dress up in traditional dress. They can help shop and cook the chosen foods (initially, try to stick with foods that are somewhat familiar).
I have gotten some of these tips from the following great pages