Healthy Eating with Kids
I’m always on the hunt for new kid-friendly, inexpensive, yet healthy snacks for my children. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll probably never be one of those Pinterest moms you’ll see creating art out of food that kids will destroy in 5 seconds (let’s be real). However, I have found ways beyond simply serving Lunchables to my kids every day. Chobani asked me to share some healthy eating tips that work for us, so here’s what I’ve got:
When grocery shopping, let the kids get involved. I know it can be a hassle, but I’ve found that they love when they get to be part of the decision-making. Try giving them a choice: Would they prefer pears or apples? This bag of grapes or that one?
Eating produce that’s in-season tends to not only be more cost-effective, but taste better as well. It can be a fun challenge to branch out and try some different foods, based on what is seasonally available.
We try to avoid the snack aisles for the most part. There tend to be less grocery store meltdowns if they don’t ask for the things I’ll be saying no to. Also, if we don’t keep much junk food at home, we’re not so tempted to eat it when we’re looking for a snack.
We try to set a good example. There aren’t a lot of foods that Joe and I don’t care for, but I try not to make a big deal about not liking them in front of the kids, so they won’t base their likes and dislikes on what we say. We talk about how important it is to take care of ourselves by eating good food and exercising, so we encourage both.
When it comes to meals and trying new things, our rule is to try at least a few bites of everything. If they don’t like it, we try not to force them to eat.
They tend to want what we have. Grace voluntarily wanted to try peppers and lime wedges because she saw me using them in recipes–now she loves them.
I don’t think my kids are unique in that they love foods that they can handle themselves, without me helping them. They love individual yogurt or applesauce cups, mini boxes of raisins, cheese sticks, their own granola bars, clementines that they can peel themselves. They also enjoy having a say in what they’re eating: for instance, when they get to choose what kind of berries (from the options I give them) to top their oatmeal with. It’s fun for them to make little sandwiches with deli meat, cheese, and crackers.
Kids also have fun when they can dip foods–pretzels or veggies in hummus (or ranch dressing, if you’re in the Midwest), fruit slices in yogurt or peanut butter.
Chobani is coming out with yogurts for kids and tots (their word, not mine), which I’m sure my kids will love to get their little hands on. I’d be happy to try them just to see if they’re less messy–it’s always a battle trying to clean yogurt off my two-year-old’s face, but she loves it.
Switch it up! Most foods get monotonous if you eat the same thing everyday, so don’t get burned out. I like to have a list of ideas to pull from when I’m out of inspiration.
If all else fails, you can hide a whole bunch of fruits (and some vegetables!) in smoothies, and they think it’s fun. I usually stock up on frozen fruit for smoothies when it goes on sale, and sometimes freeze fresh berries if I know we won’t eat them quickly enough.
What are your family’s favorites? How do you try to encourage healthy living? Do you have any tricks for getting your kids to have nutritious snacks? Please share; I’m always looking for new ideas!