Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for your child’s growth and development. Healthy eating comes with many benefits for kids, such as a reduced risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. However, with so much junk food available, it might seem like the cards are stacked against you when it comes to how to get kids to eat healthy foods.
While there is no guaranteed way to make a child eat healthy food, there are plenty of things you can do to encourage them and learn how to make healthy food fun for kids.
How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Food Starts Early
Introduce as many healthy foods as you can, as early as you can. Babies starting solids tend to favor fruits due to their sweet taste. However, parents should also expose babies to a variety of vegetables when starting solids.
Vegetables have a different texture and may taste bitter until a child has several exposures to it. When a child experiences these foods early on, parents don’t struggle as much with how to get a toddler to eat healthy foods. A study published in Appetite found that early, repeated and rotating exposure to vegetables had a long-term influence on acceptance on the vegetables given to participants.
Set A Good Example
Those little eyes are constantly watching and learning from you. The best strategy for how to make a child eat healthy food is to let them see you eating your fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein. Kids model their parents behavior, which means parents should model the same healthy eating behaviors they are teaching their children.
Eating the same healthy foods your kids are eating also helps your child to feel more included at meal time. If you aren’t sure where to start with how to get kids to eat healthy food, simply add a veggie to family meals that typically lack color. For example, it’s easy to add steamed broccoli or green beans to a pasta dish, like we do with our Classic Cheese Ravioli. Or, try incorporating more vegetarian meals for kids in your family menu plan.
Take it Slow
Healthy foods come in all kinds of tastes and textures. Remember that these foods are new to your child, so it’s going to take some time for them to adjust. If your child turns up their nose to green beans, that’s okay. In order to still solve the problem of how to make a child eat healthy food, continue to offer them each time they appear on the dinner table. After several exposures, your child will become more interested in touching, tasting, and eventually eating the green beans (or whatever food was “yucky” in the past).
Get Toddlers to Eat Healthy Foods by Keeping Meal Time Positive
The thing you want to avoid as you figure out how to get a toddler to eat healthy foods is pressure or force them to eat. Pressuring or punishing a child who refuses a certain food will cause a negative association with that food. This also only causes more frustration later.
To take a step in the right direction, think of positive ways for how to get kids to eat healthy food. Encourage them to help you prepare healthy foods in the kitchen by asking them to help toss a salad or wash produce. Then discuss why these foods are healthy for their growing bodies, and simply offer the experience of touching or tasting the food. If your child refuses, just let it go and offer the food again next time. Chances are, curiosity will win after some time.
Remember, kids eat with their eyes and they have a big imagination. Use this to your advantage to make healthy food fun for kids. Cut fruits and veggies into fun shapes and encourage your kids to “play” with their food by serving fun recipes for kids.
How to Make Healthy Food Fun for Kids
Eating healthy doesn’t mean that your child needs to say “goodbye” to their favorite junk foods. It’s totally fine (actually, it’s great) to serve a better, more nutritious version of these foods. It’s also pretty easy to do! From DIY Lunchables to swapping out meat for veggies, it doesn’t have to take much time or effort to offer a healthier option of a well-loved childhood favorite.
One way of pursuing this method of how to get kids to eat healthy food is to choose a healthier version of chicken nuggets by looking for a short and simple ingredient list and low sodium. Our Classic Chicken Nuggets fit the bill and even include a healthy serving of veggies. Make baked goods with healthy ingredients like applesauce, grated veggies, and oats in place of less healthy ingredients like oil and sugar. Or, try our Protein Poppers to satisfy a sweet tooth.
If you’re still struggling with how to get kids to eat healthy food, serve them something that has already been approved by thousands of kids. Yumble delivers fresh, delicious, fully prepared kids' meals right to your doorstep. Simply pick the plan that works best for your family, choose your healthy weekly meals, and Yumble will take care of the rest! No cooking required!