You’ve decided that it’s time to make a change. You and your family need to start eating healthier, cutting back on the sweets and fast food and reaching for the organic fruits and veggies. You, as the parent, have had time to think about this and mentally prepare yourself but your kids haven’t. How do you get them on board?
1. Tips for talking about healthy food to your kids
a. Depending on your child’s age, it will be very different how you approach this topic with them. If they are in the toddler phase then using games is a fun way to start. Ask your child to name healthy foods that are a certain color. If they are 5-10 years old. Then letting them shop and cook with you is a great way to introduce new foods. They will enjoy helping out and see how many different ways fruits and veggies can be used! If they are older, talking to them will be easy. They can understand the importance of nutrients. They may not respond as well to change though. This is when you’ll have to be patient. Older kids who have grown up on certain foods will want to stick to those foods. Let them help you cook and try some of the traditional recipe makeover ideas to make the veggies a little more hidden!
b. Some kids are very picky and others will eat just about anything. If you have a picky eater, they are likely to not want to try foods that have a funny color or look different than what they’re used to. Our MVP Kids chocolate shake would be a great way to introduce them to something healthy while letting them consume something they love (chocolate!). Easing into a healthy lifestyle is the way to go for those picky eaters.
c. Explaining how bad junk food is! Most kids (no matter the age) can understand good and bad. By telling your kids the harm eating junk food can do, they will respond better to not wanting it. Same goes for telling them all the good superfoods can do! Younger kids LOVE to hear that eating their vegetables will make them big and strong!
2. Games to make it fun and easy
Above we mentioned that games could be a fun way to get your kids talking about healthy foods. Have them list healthy foods that start with a letter of the alphabet, that are a certain color, that have a certain nutrient in it, or what is considered good, better, or best.
Example 1: Give the kids a letter. A for apple, B for banana, C for carrots, etc.
Example 2: Give the kids a color. Green for spinach, yellow for lemons, red for radishes, etc.
Example 3: Give kids a nutrient. Vitamin C in oranges, Lycopene in tomatoes, Fiber in blueberries, etc.
Example 4: Give kids a food item and have them tell you if it is in the category of “bad”, “good”, “better”, or “best”.
3. Easing into the transition
a. Going “cold turkey” can be very difficult. Ease out of the bad and into the good. Using the “good, better, best” idea (as mentioned in our Traditional Recipe Makeover blog) this shouldn’t be hard for you to choose the right foods or for your kids to enjoy them.
b. Kids love to participate in the kitchen! Let them help you go grocery shopping for dinner and also let them cook. They will be more likely to try new things if they made it!
c. Moderation is key. When you’re easing out of sweets, allow your kid a small scoop of coconut milk ice cream with strawberries on top, a small high-quality cookie, etc.
Sweet treats are a part of our culture and we don’t want our kids to feel like they are missing out. Encourage your kids to make a good choice when participating.