Simple Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat Healthier

What are some simple ways to get my kids to eat healthier?

This is another tricky one that doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer.

It’s important to pay attention to your family’s individual “story.” A baby step in the right direction for one family may be a huge leap for another. Find your baby step - the thing that feels the most in reach for your family right now.
For example, it can be overwhelming for your kids if you suddenly declare the family vegetarian or Paleo or gluten-free. On the other hand, for some who already eat in line with those diets, the change might not be such a shocker. Be mindful and take small steps. Do what feels right for you.

Here are 8 things to try if you want your kids (and you!) to eat healthier:

1 - Add in immunity-boosting foods. Eating these can provide necessary energy and immune support to help decrease colds, flu, and ear infections.

The great thing about immunity-boosting foods is there is such a huge variety across different categories of food, so there are tasty options for everyone.

FRUIT - Blueberries, raspberries, cherries. These contain powerful antioxidants, and the impact of the sugar is less than with sweeter fruits such as apples, bananas, and pineapple.

OATMEAL - Only whole or steel cut oats. Whole oats contain a fiber called beta-glucan, which helps white blood cells find the site of infection more rapidly, and improves their ability to eliminate bacteria once they get there.

You can put berries in it for a double whammy. You can also add cinnamon (also immune boosting). We suggesting soaking them first.

YOGURT or KEFIR - Go for plain, not the ones with added sweeteners. This is a great source of protein, and because it’s cultured, it adds good bacteria to the gut and keeps it balanced and healthy. You can add berries, cinnamon, non-glycemic sweeteners, or nuts.

AVOCADOS - A wonderful protein-fat. Glutathione and carotenoids in avocados aid in boosting the immune systems, also benefitting the nervous and reproductive systems.

Make guacamole and use as a dip for veggies or just eat plain, cut up. You can even sneak some into smoothies!

NUTS - Great for grab-n-go. In addition to being a great source of protein, nuts contain a wide variety of vitamins, nutrients and minerals to support a healthy immune system, including vitamins C and E, zinc, selenium and bioflavanoids.

Ideally you start with raw nuts and prepare them first by soaking and/or sprouting and dehydrating to remove nutrient-blocking phytic acid.

GARLIC - An immune-boosting super star! One clove contains 5 mg of calcium, 12 mg of potassium, and more than 100 sulfuric compounds.

You probably don’t want to serve this up plain. ☺ Cook with it, adding it to vegetables, meats, and beans. It also has a mild, nutty flavor when roasted.

​2 - Make healthy juices into a Popsicle. If your healthy green smoothies are getting rejected, try pouring them into a Popsicle mold and freezing them. Many kids will go for these healthy, fun, frozen treats on a stick, especially as the weather heats up!

3 - Take serving dishes off the table. Serve meals directly on each person’s plate. This reduces kids feeling overwhelmed by too many choices and puts the healthy choices right on the plate, ready for them to eat. Kids will still gravitate toward the carbs and protein, but if they want a second helping, you can require them to finish what’s on their plate first, veggies and all.

4 - Encourage or require them to TRY everything on their plate. This comes down to your comfort level and what seems to work for your family. Try a “No thank you” bite. If they don’t want to eat their broccoli, they can say “No thank you,” and just take one bite. They may find that they love it and continue eating…

Don’t make it a battle. You want meals to be pleasurable. If you want your child to go for healthy foods, don’t create bad associations around those foods. Research shows that young children may need to taste a new food up to 17 times before accepting it, so keep trying!

5 - Model healthy eating. If you’re constantly snacking on chips, cookies, and other less nutritive foods, your child is more likely to also.

6 - Have easy, healthy options available and ready and in plain sight. Remember that our stomachs are the size of our fists, and so are our kids’, who have much smaller fists than we do. Those little tummies empty more often. Some options you can have available for healthy snacking:

  • Cut up veggies
  • Berries
  • Nuts
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Guacamole and cut up veggies or non-GMO tortilla chips
7 - Encourage your kids to drink more water. Do your kids always seem hungry? This can be a frustrating one. Know this: typically, when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually dehydrated.

The best drink is water, of course, and young children should drink their weight in ounces every day. Since getting them to drink water can be a challenge, here are a few tips:
  • Add a straw to make it more fun.
  • Mix a little juice with water.
  • Freeze little pieces of fruit in ice cubes. (Kids love this!)
  • Let them pick out a special water bottle from the store and keep it full and easily accessible.
8 – Follow the 80/20 Rule. Make 80% of their plate non-starchy vegetables at every meal. Just as with adults, this not only provides better nutrition, but will help keep sugar cravings at bay.

9 - Get them involved in food prep. When kids help prepare their food they are more invested in it and more likely to eat it (or at least try it).

10 - Swap those unhealthy foods we grew up with to healthier choices. These are six simple things you can swap in your family’s diet. Don’t feel like you have to overhaul everything in one go, just start with ONE THING.

  1. Yogurt - Swap out the sugary yogurts for plain with your own added nuts, fruit, or stevia/Lakanto.
  2. Potato Chips - Swap for kale chips, which are easy to make. There are some good ones in stores too!
  3. Ice cream - Swap out a frozen, blended banana. You can add berries, cocoa powder, cinnamon, etc.
  4. Pasta - Swap out for spaghetti squash, spiralized zucchini, shiritake noodles (made from an Asian root veggie), kelp/sea veggie noodles, or grain-free noodles (which you can find in stores or you can make your own).
  5. Rice - Swap out with wild rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice (just break up a head of cauliflower, pulse in a food processor, and heat on the stove with some coconut oil for 5-10 minutes).
  6. Milk Chocolate and Candy - Swap out for dark chocolate. You can even find dark chocolate sweetened with Stevia.​
When you make choices about your family’s eating style, you may receive a lot of feedback from other family members and friends. You may hear, “Why is it so important to eat that?!,” or the trite, “We ate [insert unhealthy food here - gluten, lots of carbs, sugar] when you were growing up and you turned out okay.”

That’s why it’s great that we have this community of people who want to live healthier lives to support each other.

The truth is, you know what’s best for your family. No one else can tell you better. If something isn’t working, you can always change it. Again, don’t feel like you have to do everything to be successful. Make the changes that work for you and your family.

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