One of the struggles of parenting, regardless of a child’s ability, is nutrition. If your child eats orally, one of your concerns during meal time may be expanding their horizons to include new, healthy foods in their diet. While they may push the food you prepare around their plates now, don’t fear; there is still hope that they can expand their palate and come to enjoy nutritious foods. In this blog, we will go over ways you can encourage healthy eating habits in your child.
Model the Behavior
Actions speak louder than words. You can tell your child all you want that they need to eat healthy foods, but if you aren’t setting the same standard for yourself, they’re going to learn a very different lesson. If you want your child to eat healthily, don’t chow down on cheeseburgers and neglect your side of broccoli. Model the behavior you want your child to demonstrate.
Don’t Give Up
When your family is sitting around the dinner table, it might feel like half your time is spent trying to convince your little one to take one bite of healthy food off your plate. The easier thing to do would be to give up, letting them eat dinosaur nuggets till they’re 25. Keep in mind that many children are resistant to change, and it might take many small bites of your healthy meal before they decide to like it. Keep offering healthy foods off your plate, and consider making it a rule that your child needs to take three bites of something before you will stop offering it.
Teach Them About Food
Take the time to educate your children about where their food comes from and how it is made. If possible, take them to the farmers’ market to shop for your produce so they can meet the farmers who grew their meal. Alternatively, you could start a vegetable garden where your child can see firsthand how food grows and enjoy the (literal) fruits of their labor.
Make Healthy Snacks Available
Your child can only snack on what’s available in your home, so if you don’t want them eating junk food, don’t keep it in the house. Make sure to choose healthy snacks for them so that when they are feeling a little peckish, they don’t have the option of a sugary candy bar. The best is to keep fresh fruits and veggies around, but if you don’t have the time to always keep them stocked, you have options that will last a little longer. For example, frozen fruit is a delicious treat that is comparable to a popsicle; try freezing blueberries or grapes for tasty, poppable snacks. Other tasty snacks that you can always have on hand include almonds, dried fruit, popcorn, low-fat cheese sticks, and oatmeal.
Let Them Choose
There is nothing that will make an option less appealing than when it’s your only one. Like all of us, children want freedom of choice. You can make them feel more in control of their diet by offering them different healthy choices. That being said, you don’t want to become a short order cook in the process. Therefore, you can give them choices within the meal you are preparing for the whole family. For example, you could do a burrito bowl where family members can each pick what toppings they want to include. You can apply the same concept to a variety of meals, such as pasta, omelettes, sandwiches, or salads. Giving them a bit more freedom while still offering only healthy choices can be empowering for children.
Cook With Them
Cooking with your child is a fun educational experience for them. They get to see firsthand how their meal is made and feel more ownership over what they are eating as a result of helping you out. There are age- and ability-appropriate tasks that children can do for a variety of meals, whether it’s chopping vegetables, boiling water, or mixing up a dressing.
At Evergreen Home Healthcare, we would love to do everything we can to support a healthy lifestyle for your child and your family as a whole. If you need pediatric home health care in Denver, we have compassionate and experienced CNAs and other health care professionals who can help. Contact us today to get started.