Kids are naturally drawn to foods high in sugars and starches because they taste delicious to their tiny taste buds, and this can be especially true when surrounded by holiday sweets. As a parent, it’s vital to ensure your children eat a well-balanced diet full of nutrients that will promote healthy growth and learning, but kids don’t always feel the same way.
Keep your family’s overall health on track by incorporating these six tips for encouraging healthy eating habits over the holidays.
Tip #1: Get Your Kids Involved
The best way to get your kids interested in eating a balanced diet is to start at the source. Teaching your kids where their food comes from and how it’s grown is critical in getting them interested in healthy foods. A Saturday morning outing to the local farmer’s market allows your family to see foods in a different setting than in the traditional supermarket. Introduce them to the working hands that grew the produce, and let them pick out the foods your family will eat for the next week together.
Have a green thumb? Planting things like tomatoes, lettuce, and berries in the spring is a great way to show your kids the process of how foods grow and encourage a child to try the fruits of their labor.
Tip #2: Stock Up On Healthy Snacks
If your kitchen and pantry are stocked with healthy things to eat in convenient grab-and-go packaging, it’s an easy way to get your kids reaching for healthy alternatives. Keeping snacks in convenient, easy-to-reach places in the fridge and the pantry at a child’s eye level will enable your family to be self-sufficient when it comes to snacks.
Mom Hack: Invest in a few plastic containers and label them with the days of the week for snacks. Take a few extra minutes on grocery day and plan snacks out ahead of time to eliminate the “mom, I’m hungry” complaints and make your kids more self-sufficient.
Tip #3: Let Them Decide
Kids love to get their way – don’t we all? But no parent wants to be a short-order cook for their tiny army, especially if you cook for multiple people in your family. Instead of fully assembling meals and plating everything for your kids, try the fixings bar approach, like this example for taco Tuesday:
- Rather than assembling everyone’s plates, place items like rice, beans, whole wheat tortillas, and taco meat like chicken or beef in separate dishes.
- Let your kids assemble their tacos with their toppings like fresh tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, salsa, and sour cream.
The fixings bar approach works well for family meals like tacos, pasta, vegetables, and snack time. Get everyone involved by making each person responsible for themselves.
Tip #4: Monkey See, Monkey Do
A recent study found that young children’s food tastes are significantly related to their parents’ favorite foods. Having your kids watch you order fresh and healthy options at restaurants rather than a burger and fries through the drive-thru encourages them to establish healthy eating habits both at home and while they’re out and about.
Tip #5: Offer the Same Foods in Different Ways
Studies prove that most children require multiple exposures to new foods before they willingly eat them independently. Offering broccoli between 5-10 times, prepared in different ways, will help any new foods to become familiar to your child and allow them to be more willing to eat it when it’s put on their plate.
Tip #6: Establish Healthy Eating Habits Early On
Getting your entire family to eat healthy foods starts when they’re babies and continues to develop well into the teen years. While it may be tempting to “take some time off” from healthy eating during the holidays, consistency is always key.
For more tips on how to keep your family healthy during the holidays, ask Thomas Orthodontics for more tips at your child’s next orthodontic checkup.