Healthy Eating Made Easy
Get the whole family into eating right with these simple tips
Everyone can benefit from eating healthier, but it is especially important for children. We asked Amy Kaneff, New York-based health coach and blogger (thrivewithamy.com) to share her best tips for eating healthy. She says that to get the whole family into making better food choices it’s best to skip the food tricks.
“Eating habits are learned behaviors," says Kaneff. "Introducing children to healthy eating at a young age — and have them know that they’re eating — familiarizes them with wholesome foods, and encourages them to make healthy choices.”
Here are Kaneff's top 5 tips on getting them started.
BE AN EXAMPLE
Actions speak louder than words, so parents need to lead by example by loading up on their own fruits and veggies. When kids see mom and dad snacking on apples, kale chips, nuts and low-sugar granola bars, they’re more likely to be open about trying them. Some easy and healthy snacks to make at home? Trail mix and granola bars, turkey and cheese roll ups, smoothies, even sliced apple with nut butter for those with a sweet tooth.
DON'T RESTRICT FOOD
Kaneff says that parents should skip the drill sergeant attitude. Setting strict guidelines can backfire and make kids want junk food even more. “Instead, educate them about healthy options. For example, if your child loves sports, explain how eating lean protein will give her strength. Or, how eating a healthy breakfast will help their brain work to do better in school."
KEEP IT IN SIGHT
Make fruits and veggies easily available: cut up carrots, cucumbers and red peppers and store them at eye-level in the fridge, or have a bowl stacked daily with apples, easy-to-peel clementines and bananas. Remember, if you stock healthy foods such as pretzels, nut butter, or air-popped popcorn in your cupboards, your kids will eat them.
If your child rejects celery the first time around, don’t strike it off the menu. Research has shown that it takes 10-12 attempts before a child will try a new food. In addition to repeat appearances at the dinner table, Kaneff says to get creative and present fruits and vegetables in different shapes and sizes. Kids may prefer them raw vs. cooked, shaped like a star or animal, or even cut in half compared to whole.
GET THEM INVOLVED
Even if they’re just pushing or sitting in the cart, get kids involved in the food shopping, food prep and the cooking. Knowing they’ve had a hand in the food that’s on their table will not only add variety to their menu, but encourage them to be open about new foods. And don’t forget to acknowledge your children when they do make healthy choices. Kids are likely to repeat an action if they feel proud.