We want our children to eat a variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins so that they can grow healthy and strong. Unfortunately, getting kids to eat foods that are good for them can be very challenging. As a mother of four, I can say that I understand this struggle all too well. One day my kids love a certain food, and the next, they are turning their noses up at that very same dish. So what is a parent to do?
To help make mealtime a little less stressful, I would like to offer you five tips on what you can start doing now to get your children to eat healthier and enjoy trying new things:
1) Get them involved.
Have your child help you prepare family meals or have a family menu board where they can help pick what the family will be having for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. Set some rules like each meal must have a vegetable, a whole grain and a protein. When they are involved in the planning and preparation, they are more likely to eat the food.
2) Educate your children on why it’s good to eat healthy.
Teach your child that our bodies need three very important nutrients: protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Explain to them that protein helps to build strong muscles and immunity, carbohydrates consist of healthy whole grains, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats help with healthy brain development. Show them examples of each nutrient, and have fun packing their lunch box together incorporating items that contain these three important nutrients. Treat it like a scavenger hunt in the fridge.
3) Be an example.
Monkey see, monkey do! If you want your child to eat right, lead by example. Children are always watching your every move. Model healthy examples in the home and set a foundation for them to follow.
4) Buy fun lunch boxes.
There are so many fun and unique lunch boxes available. I’ve found that by purchasing a style or colour they enjoy, it creates more excitement for them when it’s time to eat what’s inside.
5) Grocery shop together.
Bring your child to the grocery store and ask them to fill your cart with vegetables from each colour of the rainbow. Teach them to look for snacks that have 8 grams of sugar or less. I’ve played this activity with my kids and they really have fun with it! Plus, it is a great way to educate them to become mindful of the food choices they make in a way that is easy for them to understand.
To help you get started with healthier lunch choices for kids, try this easy, healthy recipe idea that incorporates vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein.
Kids Pasta Salad
300 grams of quinoa, brown rice, or macaroni
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup carrots, cooked and cooled
1 cup peas, cooked and cooled
1⁄2 red onion, chopped (optional)
2 limes, juiced
1⁄2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the quinoa/rice/pasta as directed on the box. Have all of the veggies ready to go and set aside.
Once the pasta is cooled, place it into a large mixing bowl.
Top with all of the veggies and the chopped onion.
Pour the dressing over top and mix well.