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7 Things You Can Do to Get Kids to Eat Healthier

  • Category: LiveSmart
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  • Written By: Baldwin

kids eating healthy

Here's how to set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Parents often feel like it's a battle to get kids to eat healthy foods. But when kids eat healthier and adopt other good-for-you habits, such as exercising regularly, it not only keeps them healthier in the moment but makes it more likely they will continue to make healthy choices for years to come.

To make it more likely that your children will embrace healthier eating habits rather than fighting you each time you introduce good-for-you foods, you may have to be a bit strategic. But since habits learned when children are young often stay with them for life, the effort you make now is well worth it.

Here are 7 things you can do to make it more likely your kids will eat healthier:

  1. Involve kids in food decisions – From selecting food at the grocery store to packing lunch for school, kids are more likely to eat foods when they have been part of the decision-making process. Present kids with healthy options to choose from but let them make the final decision.
  2. Be a role model – Kids are more likely to do things that they see their parents or guardians doing, so make healthy eating a family affair. It's easier to get kids to snack on fruit or nuts if they see mom or dad doing the same.
  3. Limit junk food in the house – There's no reason to forbid certain foods, but there's also no reason to make them easily accessible. Get into the habit of enjoying certain foods only when you go out so portion sizes are controlled.
  4. Experiment with new foods – Let your child pick out one or two new foods at the grocery store (preferably from the produce aisle) and then come up with ways to prepare the new food. Make a game out of it or try new recipes together.
  5. Meal prep – Prepare healthy meals and snacks in advance so it's easy for everyone in the family to have healthy food at their fingertips when they're hungry. Get the whole family involved to make easy work of meal prep and to get kids more vested in eating what is prepared.
  6. Eat together – Scheduling regular family meals can go a long way in getting kids to embrace healthy eating habits. It also helps them associate positive memories with healthy foods, which makes it more likely they'll want to eat them.
  7. Start the day off right – Breakfast is one of the most important times for kids to eat healthy. Get everyone in the habit of eating foods high in protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fat to start the day. Cook up some egg muffins or breakfast burritos in advance if time is at a premium.

Instead of hounding kids to "eat this, not that," coming up with strategies that make it more likely kids will embrace healthier eating as the norm can go a long way towards getting everyone in the family to develop healthier habits.

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Date Last Reviewed: February 15, 2024

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RDN, CLT

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