I hear so much of the time from people everywhere “I can’t get my kids to eat healthy” Or “all my toddler will eat is chocolate milk and chicken nuggets”. If I had a nickel for every time I have heard something along those lines I would be rich! However as a former personal trainer, and someone who has always been a “learning” health nut, I can say I think my kids have always ate healthy, and I never had to fight them to do so. So how do you get your kids to eat healthy? And even more so choose to on their own?
We all know that it’s best for kids to eat healthy, their bodies have so much growing to do, brains have learning to do, and they can not do all of that well while being fueled by junk. However many parents feel they simply can not get their children to eat healthy food. And I am sure that is how it seems to them. However children are much like ourselves and we are creatures of habit. If we want our kids to eat healthy we must first start with how we eat and behave toward food.
What are your true beliefs toward food?
- do you think of healthy food as less than desirable? Untasty, boring you would rather have X? Etc
- do you secretly eat junk food?
- if no one knew what food you ate what choices would you make?
- what is your attitude about healthy food?
- do you try to offer healthy food to your kids while choosing unhealthy for yourself?
If you can say yes to these, then the root of the issue starts with us, adults. Our children are like sponges and from a small age they are formulating ideas about food. There was a time when they would put anything in their mouths right? I know I am there right now with one child.
Mason, my little man (currently the little guy) is at an age where he still puts everything into his mouth. Now I can give him a french fry or I can give him fresh fruit he would put both in his mouth happily. However He is also at and age where I am training him and his taste buds, and by what I choose for him I am training him what choices to make. I can choose fries from a fast food place or fresh fruit and he will begin to become accustomed to that. Or I can regularly give him healthy, organic and home cooked meals and he will become accustomed to that. You see it’s all in choices and habits we learn and what choices we choose to believe.
So how do we train our children to eat in a more healthy manner? How do we help them to want and choose to eat healthy so that it’s a life long habit? Easy we change us, and how we as parents eat.
Good beliefs to establish
- food is for fuel, you put good in you get good out
- healthy does not have to mean boring, no sweets or tasteless
- junk food should be limited severely as it makes us feel worse not better
- there are always healthy options for an unhealthy craving
1. Healthy is good, and delicious
My kids do not at all not be treats or snacks or juice. We choose healthy options for us that means little to no prepackaged foods. My kids do not associate healthy with boring, healthy is simply what they know. In fact one of our favorite family dessert is Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp, it’s easy, fast and can be made ahead of time (and frozen) it’s sugar-free, gluten-free and fruits can be changed (blackberry, blueberry, raspberry etc) I have a huge patch of rhubarb and a blackberry patch my kids will happily go pick rhubarb so that I will make their favorite dessert. In fact this is a at least once a week dessert. I also make ice cream, cakes, cookies, smoothies and much more. My kids do not go without sweets, we in fact probably eat sweets and desserts more than the average family, we just don’t eat sugar, chemical or preservative filled deserts.
2. You are what you eat- so train your mind
We often think we don’t have enough energy or can’t focus or lose weight like we would like, am I right? And then we also think our kids are overactive, ‘spacy’ misbehaving etc. Well all those issues are solved with food and eating to fuel your body. Just like starting a new budget, a new schedule or any other disciplined behavior, eating healthy has to become a habit. Stopping through a drive through on the way home from work may be faster and more “convenient” but it is a behavior that leads to destruction, to your health, wallet and more. Just like we all know living carelessly about time or money can lead to destruction as well. Training your mind to realize food is fuel, is a behavior and habit that has to be started, it won’t just start itself. However when you start to see the health, behavior and energy differences it becomes a part of life you enjoy and don’t loathe. Then you also start to feel the effects of junk food how you feel worse, and you don’t actually want it anymore.
3. Go with the flow
Go with the eating flow, feed their and your eating desires. By that I mean don’t try to squash the natural eating desires, just replace them with good ones. I have a child who loves loves loves veggies and I have one that really enjoys sweets. I don’t want either one to grow up hating to eat healthy because they never had what they craved, so they all get to eat the way that their cravings are. Like I said we have sweets and I don’t demonize dessert, I also don’t talk about “a moment on your lips and forever on your hips” because true food for fuel does not have to be that way. You can be healthy fit not over weight and eat your dessert too. We simply point out the healthy “real food” options are better for us and why.
4. Let the unhealthy slide…..Sometimes
So every once in a while it’s ok to be a little unhealthy, in fact I think it can reinforce healthy eating habits. We are not scared to take the kids out and everyone gets ice cream. Even though we do make a healthy sugar-free version of ice cream at home sometimes (and I do mean not super often) we will be ok going out for the junk food version. However what becomes clear very soon is they don’t enjoy it nearly as much. Loads of sugar, or high fructose corn syrup doesn’t take long to make you feel, just yuck. The same goes with other junk food or fast food, they learn that even though it may taste good, they don’t want it very often, and they don’t like how it makes them feel.
Things to try
need some ideas of things to try that your kids and you might just love?
- Healthy Whole-lemon Lemonade, this can be done with limes or add other fruits my kids love strawberry lemonade plus this is a current pregnancy craving so everyone wins!
- kefir- we are pretty new to making kefir but it is awesome, and whipping up a kefir smoothie is so easy!
- sourdough in my house we love sourdough pizza and we have it regularly
- probiotic sodas- delicious alternative to soda or sugar filled juice
- kombucha– we have been doing this for years and the kids always love it and ask for it
Resources that are awesome
Super Healthy Kids – online resources for tons of kid friendly and delicious recipes
Cultured Food for Life– Online website with awesome healthy recipes
Cultured Food for Life: How to Make and Serve Delicious Probiotic Foods for Better Health and Wellness
Delicious Probiotic Drinks: 75 Recipes for Kombucha, Kefir, Ginger Beer, and Other Naturally Fermented Drinks
Getting kids to eat healthy isn’t hard, in fact it’s the opposite. However eating healthy for kids is the same with us, it has to be intentional. Healthy just doesn’t happen by accident, it has to be a goal. However the good news it that there are tons of resources, books, websites and Pinterest boards dedicated just to this. Here is our healthy eating Pinterest board, loaded with tons of healthy recipes to try. Maybe you are new to eating healthy or maybe you are just looking to expand your horizons, we encourage and applaud you♡♡♡
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From our family to yours, thanks for stopping by
Beth is a mother of 6 living on a handful of acres in an old farmhouse in central Kansas. Beth has a background in the military and health and fitness however her passions come from her homestead life. Beth is an enthusiastic homeschooling mom, avid organic gardener, chicken & goat wrangler, who is obsessed with herbs and natural remedies and maintaining an all-around Do-It-Yourself lifestyle. Beth loves to share all she has learned about and sustainable living. While striving for a healthy, natural life, family-centered life.