Here are three tips for getting kids interested in healthy eating.
1. Introduce healthy foods early and often. Loving any kind of food is a learned experience so we just need to be sure we're teaching our kids what kinds of food are delicious and healthy. We naturally crave sweet tastes so it's easy for us to like things that are filled with sugar, especially processed sugars like granulated white sugar and corn syrup. But, if you want your kids to love veggies and fruit, those items need to appear more than cereal bars or packaged options.
- Start with the baby food. Mash up whatever you're eating and offer it to the baby who keeps grabbing at your dinner plate. Babies LOVE to eat what the big people eat at that phase. Add a little water if it's too thick and whirrrrrrrrr it up in the food processor! It takes moments and costs pennies.
- Keep offering healthy options like veggies and try different recipes if necessary. Not everyone likes broccoli and dip so "steam it, mash it, stick it in a stew" if you have to.
2. Involve your kids in the process - to help them become familiar with and love healthy foods.
- Growing easy veggies like greens
- Visiting the farmer's market. Look for Phoenix Farmers' markets here and here.
- Talk about "Strong food" vs. being thin or fat. Our daughter is used to this way of describing food now and asks, "Mom, is candy strong food?" "Um...not so much."
- Make snacks fun and colorful. Fruits and veggies come in such beautiful colors and textures, you're sure to find something they're like!
- Be creative - nickname the foods if it helps. We have Disney themed food at our house and call red peppers, "Ariel Peppers", green peppers "Jasmine Peppers" and broccoli - "Trees".
If you didn't start early - it's never too late. If your kids are used to sweets, start with the sweeter healthy snacks like dried fruit and work backward from there.
Healthy eating is the best form of medicine. Here's to an apple a day!