Superior Health Coaching

How To Get Children To Eat More Healthful Foods

Having raised two boys, I know how challenging it can be to get our children to eat more healthful foods. I decided to make healthier choices for my family when my oldest son was sick for the first seven years of his life. The goal was to remove sugar, chemicals and processed foods from their diets. I knew this had to be done in steps.

 Here are my tips:

1. Stop making multiple meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Kids are not going to eat what you make for the family if you are making a special meal just for them.

2. Replace poor food choices with better options that mimic the unhealthy food. This step was more about removing the chemicals and food colorings then it was about removing the sugar.

3. Get your children involved in the kitchen. Once they start making things themselves, they are more eager to try it.

4. Educate them on what "food" really is. You can take your children to a farmer's market, grow a garden, read books, etc.

5. Take them shopping with you (breathe, I know) and teach them how to look past the advertising. Together, read the labels and show them what to look for.

6. Do not punish them with food or make them eat every bite. Be happy if they simply try something.

7. Do not tell them they can not have something at someone's home/event/party/etc. This can make them feel different and can create a negative outlook toward food. The good thing about this is the more clean their diets become and the healthier their bodies become, the worse they will feel when they eat poorly. They will quickly make the distinction between good and bad foods based on how a particular food makes them feel (headache, belly ache, etc.).

8. Make your own cookbook. Let them have fun creating their very own recipes. When you make the recipes, take a vote, yay or nay - yays stay, nays get ditched, never to be made again. Be sure to laugh about the “not so good” recipes. Allow your kids to put stars/stickers on the recipes, rating them, the more stars, the better the dish. Don't stop them when they want to put the whole sheet of stickers on the recipe (breathe, I know).

9. Let them have food parties. Help your children pick some easy but healthful recipes (by easy I mean few ingredients and quick to me on this one). Shop together for the ingredients. Let them invite a friend or two so they can show their friends what they have learned. Try not to jump in, direct or correct - simple questions is all you need to contribute.

10. Ask their teachers if they can do a demonstration and prepare something for the class.

11. Be honest. Don't exaggerate. Don't pretend to be perfect. Be a role model. Children identify themselves with the same sex parent so be the person you want your child to be and that means embracing and making light of your mistakes and theirs.

12. Do not complain about having to make meals.

13. Do not tell them that bad food will make them fat and good food will make them skinny.

14. Do not point out people eating poorly or people who are overweight. If your children point these things out to you, simply ask them what they think they would do differently if they were that person. I would not give your opinion unless asked.

15. Make a big deal out of everything! Celebrate! Reward them with your time and attention!