Power up kids’ healthy eating habits to include more whole plant foods with these five expert nutrition tips.
Every day is a new opportunity to encourage healthier eating habits for your children. I’m sharing some of my top tips for boosting healthy whole plant foods in your kids’ diets, some of which I practiced with my own children, including Nicholas, pictured below, licking the spoon as he helped me cook in the kitchen. A lot of times we think about healthy eating as all or nothing. But healthy eating should really be about developing sustainable, wholesome habits that last a lifetime. This is especially true for children of every age. It may seem that you are losing the battle when it comes to getting them to eat (and like) their veggies, and skip the sugary, junk foods, but every effort you make will pay off in the long run. I worked hard at getting my children to eat plenty of whole plant foods and enjoy helping in the kitchen. Sure, there were times when they complained that their lunchbox didn’t have bags of chips and cookies. But now in their 20s, my boys are self-professed critics of fast food, and love to whip up healthy food in my kitchen, including roasted cauliflower and mushrooms, and butternut squash soup.
Indeed, studies show that repeated exposure of healthful foods to children makes these foods more approachable—and more likely to be consumed. All you have to do is include healthful foods on the table more often, even if your child doesn’t want to try them at that moment. There are other benefits for fostering healthy eating habits early on—children will even perform better in school and sports, according to research. In addition, children who eat a healthy, plant-based diet grow up to experience a lower risk for developing chronic diseases and obesity. And there’s even more good news about how your hard work can pay off later. Read on to learn about my 5 Healthy Eating Tips for Kids, and get started today!
5 Healthy Eating Tips for Kids
1. Include a Veggie at Meals. Remember that repeated exposure to vegetables means that they will be less scary to children. So, that piece of broccoli might seem overwhelming now, but if a child sees it on the dining room table every night for a couple of months, and notices her parents eating it, then she will be more inclined to give it a try herself. That doesn’t mean that you have to engage in a food fight over said broccoli. Resting it on the side of the plate may be enough to encourage a child to bite into it one day. And even if it doesn’t happen in their younger years, you’ll be surprised how that vegetable may become part of their diet later on. But giving up and writing that vegetable off forever is a big mistake, encouraging lifelong abstinence of healthful foods. If your child has an aversion to bitter flavors and tough textures in vegetables, try different preparation techniques, such as roasting vegetables to mellow their flavors, and blanching fresh veggies for just a minute or two to make them less crunchy. In the meantime, don’t feel bad about dishing up your child’s favorite vegetables every day as they become acquainted with other foods. Try this kid-friendly recipe for Broccoli Au Grautin here.
Beet White Bean Hummus
2. Make Healthy Eating Fun. One of the best ways to encourage kids to eat more healthful foods, such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains, is to make them fun! Interaction is one of the best techniques for children. Give kids something fun to do with their fresh veggies, apple slices, and whole grain crackers, like dipping them almond butter or a pretty pink hummus (like this Beet White Bean Hummus), or building a living portrait on their plate with broccoli trees, spinach forests, cauliflower clouds, and carrot circle flowers.
Easy Vegan Tacos with Refried Beans and Corn Salsa
3. Eat a Family Dinner Most Nights. Research is overwhelming on the benefits of family dinners, with time spent together around the dining room table, eating a healthy meal and talking about what happened during the day. These good habits can start out at a young age, as children learn their first social and nutritional lessons. Studies show that kids do better in school, eat healthier diets, and engage in less risky behaviors later on in when they have family dinners at home. So, get going today planning simple, easy family meals filled with simple delicious foods your whole family will love, such as these easy soft tacos.
Pumpkin Peach Spice Super Smoothie
4. Join the Healthy Snacking Club. Who said kids’ snacks have to consist of refined grain fish crackers, sugary “fruit” snacks, and cookies? Snacks are the time to power up on servings of nutrient-rich foods, such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and veggies. Raisins, sunflower seeds, whole fruit, and mini whole grain PBJs are all great options for healthy snacking. Whip up a healthy smoothie such as this Pumpkin Peach Spice Super Smoothie or Zingy Avocado Banana Smoothie. Or mix up a healthy low added sugar whole grain muffin, bar, or bite.
Vegan Caramel Apple Microwave Mug
5. Get Your Kids in the Kitchen. This is the perfect time to start your child off right with healthy eating behaviors for the whole year, such as enjoying more fruits and vegetables. Get your kids involved in the cooking process, from beginning to end. Have your child shop with you, visit the farmers market to sample new fruits and veggies together, and don an apron to help you cook something healthy and delicious. Studies show that kids who get involved in meal preparation are more likely to try healthier foods they prepared. So, start with this easy, recipe for Caramel Apple Mug, which has a serving of fruit, and enlist the help of your child to do simple things, like stir the bowl, and measure the dry ingredients—or let older kids learn to follow a recipe and take over!
Try the following kid-friendly healthy recipes to promote healthy eating habits this year:
Loaded Vegan Jackfruit Nachos
Easy Vegan Mac & Cheese with Peas
Strawberry Banana Coconut Baked Oatmeal
Creamy Peach Yogurt Parfait
By: Sharon Palmer
Title: Power Up Kids’ Eating Habits
Sourced From: sharonpalmer.com/power-up-kids-eating-habits/
Published Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2022 08:00:42 +0000