Getting kids to eat healthy is easy
with these 8 tips!

Getting kids to eat healthy isn't easy in today's culture, is it? We are bombarded with messages about junk food. Since you're creating healthy habits and maybe even struggling with a picky eater at home, now is the time to promote kids nutrition in your home.

We actually had some success with letting our kids have a little more control over what they eat. By guiding them in eating healthy foods, but letting them make their own decisions about when and how much, it relieved some major power struggles.

It is totally possible to get your kids to make their own snacks and even make some of their own meals. This is a great first step toward getting kids to eat healthy. Here are some tips about how you can get your kids to start thinking about kids nutrition:

1. Reinforce the link between diet and “growing up big & strong.”

Different kids have different motivations, but the fact is that good childhood nutrition will help them grow up healthier, thinner, stronger, more attractive, happier and more intelligent than they would on a low-grade diet. Surely there's something on that list that will motivate them?

2. Keep variety in their diet.

When we began to let our boys make their own breakfasts, I made a circular chart showing common breakfast foods arranged in food groups. The idea was that you couldn't have any group twice until you'd eaten something from all the groups. We hung the chart in the kitchen and used it as a gentle reminder whenever they began to pour a second bowl of cereal. Even my four-year-old quickly memorized the food groups and learned to eat a balanced breakfast on his own.

3. Keep healthy food on hand

This entire system will crumble like a stale cookie if the only food in the house is corn meal and vanilla extract. Getting kids to eat healthy starts with you providing it, and that means grocery shopping. If it's gotta get done and they have a stake in it, why not enlist your kids in making grocery shopping easier? You can get started right now with this healthy grocery list.

4. Encourage diverse eaters

If your kids don't care for a meal every once in a while, let them make something else. Something boring, like a pb&j. I've seen families where the mom ends up acting like a short order cook on a regular basis because of kid's demands, which of course enables the kids to not eat anything new (or particularly healthy). You can even start healthy habits with babies .

5. Limit snacks

If your kids aren't eager for dinner, they're either snacking too much or they're not getting enough exercise. We cut off access to snacks a couple hours before dinner, and try to make sure they run around for a bit every day. I noticed that if my kids were hungry enough, they'd eat pretty much anything I put in front of them!

6. Plant a garden

This isn't an option for everyone, but my kids got a lot more interested in vegetables, even greens, when they grew them themselves.

7. Give them a "vegetables budget"

If you are lucky enough to live near a seasonal Farmer's Market, this works even better. Even at the grocery store, though, you can give each child a few dollars to spend on vegetables of their choice. I was amazed at how a little ownership over a purchase can open their mind to the joy of kids nutrition!

8. Put a surprise in their lunch box

School lunches are full of preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and sodium. Incorporate some of these lunch box ideas into the next lunch you make and sneak in the nutrition!

With these tips and a little trial and error, getting kids to eat healthy foods should be a lot easier. If you think about it, you as the parent have a unique opportunity to teach your kids life-long healthy habits. Teach them well and enjoy healthy living together!

Go to Cooking with Kids from Getting Kids to Eat Healthy