One of the most common questions I hear is “How can I get my kids to eat healthy?”
The truth is, developing a relationship with nourishing foods is essential for long-term health and well-being and, although there are challenges, it’s not impossible and shouldn’t mean that you’re setting yourself up for battle. In fact, one of the most important things you can do to help your family develop healthy eating patterns is to NOT battle over food.
Following are a few suggestions I’ve used with clients and my own kids (my most challenging clients) over the years to help get kids hungry for the good stuff:
1. Start Early (but it’s never too late!) The earlier you introduce kids to healthy, whole foods, the easier it will be to maintain good eating habits as they get older.
2. Upgrade the Junk. If your kids already eat a lot of pre-packaged processed foods switch to the best quality “junk” food you can. Simple switches in what you choose at the grocery store, can dramatically decrease your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals. Start by looking for organic, non-gmo alternatives.
3. Lead by Example. Kids do as you do; not necessarily as you say. Before you make changes for them, implement them for yourself.
4. Choices. Allow children age appropriate, healthy choices (“do you want carrots or broccoli?”) and be respectful of their tastes and moods.
5. Make Things Yummy. Do whatever it takes to get kids to eat whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. Allow them to add cheese, ketchup, sauces, put things on a cracker, etc.
6. Snacks Don’t Equal Junk. Most of us love our snacks! When your kids are hungry give them something nutritious (scrambled eggs, fruit, ½ sandwich) not “filler.” Choose nutrient dense mini-meals over nutrient void snacks whenever possible. Calories are not all equal.
7. Food is NOT a Reward or A Punishment. Food is delicious, nourishing and gives us the energy so we can be healthy, strong and happy. Stay positive.
8. Parents Run the Show. As a mom you do whatever you can to keep your kids safe from dangers. Over-consuming nutrient void foods is dangerous to your child’s health- you don’t have to feel guilty about wanting them to be well-nourished.
9. They Will Eat Junk. Avoid power struggles around food and obsessing about what everyone is eating. Practice the 80/20 rule.
10. Tune In. Teach kids (and yourself) to listen to the signals your body gives you. Do you know the difference between being hungry and tired, thirsty or bored? Can you tell what you’re craving?
Summer’s abundance of fresh fruits and veggies makes it a perfect time to implement healthy habits. Instead of thinking about what you have to eliminate, think about all the foods you can add-in. Make healthy foods fun and enjoy!
Amara Wagner is a speaker and mentor who empowers moms to trust their intuition and guides them, with practical tools, to raise naturally healthy families. Her private and group coaching programs help women navigate motherhood mindfully and with a sense of humor, without dogma. Amara provides a unique, down-to-earth approach to moms who want to feel confident using whole foods and ancient remedies to support their family's health. She specializes in helping holistic-minded mamas parent from an intuitive place, without sacrificing their own health. To learn more about Amara and her programs please visit www.amarawellness.com