Picky Eaters on Board? How to Get Your Kids to Embrace Clean Eating
There’s no denying the benefits of clean eating for grown-ups, but for children whose brains and bodies are still developing, clean eating is a more urgent goal. Getting your kids to eat clean now can set them up for a lifetime of healthy habits, but kids are notoriously picky. Here’s how to get your kids to embrace clean eating without losing your mind.
Clean Eating, Not Dieting
Diets are for adults, not kids. It’s not healthy to cut calories from a child’s diet, and clean eating should not mean your child gives up sweets or foods she loves. When you present clean eating as something that involves deprivation, you immediately ensure that your child will hate it. Instead, show her how you can make clean cookies, homemade candy, and dozens of delicious snacks. There’s nothing wrong with some extra calories, as long as they don’t come from a bag of processed garbage.
Kids don’t have much control over their own lives. Parents tell them what to eat, when to eat it, how much they can eat, and which foods they must avoid. But when kids get control, they make surprisingly good choices. Don’t institute clean eating in a dictatorial fashion. Instead, elicit input from your kids. Ask little ones to choose between two or three meals; older kids can help with preparation, and teens can be tasked with making a family menu for the evening.
Imagine a delicious cookie. Now imagine it looks like a slug. Do you want to eat it? Probably not. Kids are even more easily fooled by food’s appearance than adults, which means that if you want your kids to eat clean, you need to make clean eating fun and attractive. Remember the old adage about not playing with food? Research actually suggests that kids who play with their food eat healthier, so let your kid go wild making cheese moats and putting craters in her brussels sprouts. And if you really want to tempt your little one to try new things, make them pretty! Cut fruits into elaborate patterns. Use cookie cutters to make cool shapes in sandwiches. Pick up some food coloring to create awesome patterns in your child’s favorite foods. Don’t forget how important it is to create a love for drinking water too. See fun WATER RECIPES HERE.
Research suggests that children need to try a new food, on average, 20 times before they like it. But misguided parents who get into power struggles – punishing their kids for not eating particular foods or taking away foods their kids like when kids refuse to eat foods they dislike – can cause their kids to develop food issues. Instead, try instituting a “one-bite rule.” Everyone must take at least one bite of a new food. Continue introducing new foods and encouraging one bite. That food your child hated the first 19 times might be her new favorite by her 20th bite.
Clean eating can be a bit intimidating for kids, but by remaining positive and treating your kids as allies in the journey toward healthier living, you can get everyone on board for a healthier life.