Food & Diet
8 Ways to Make Your Children Love Healthy Food More than Candy
These days it’s difficult to see a child who doesn’t indulge in sweets on a daily basis. Children are used to getting sweets whenever they want and they usually eat too much of them, which can lead to developing unhealthy lifestyle habits, becoming overweight, or not getting enough nutrients from foods. The point of this article is not to teach you how to completely deny your children candy – they need to be allowed certain amounts of treats in order not to become frustrated and unhappy. But it is definitely important to teach your kids to start loving healthy foods and make healthy choices even when nobody is forcing them to. If you stick to a good strategy, your children will soon pick fruits rather than chocolate and candy, and they will choose fresh squeezed juices rather than sugary artificial drinks. Let’s help our children reach and maintain optimal health without making them unhappy, shall we?
1. Consider making fresh juices for your children
Aren’t fresh squeezed juices much better-tasting than commercial ones? Children take in way too much sugar through sugary beverages. You don’t have to restrict juices, but you could simply make natural ones, from real fruits. Your children will probably immediately love them, and soon they’ll pick them over any commercial juice any day.
According to a 2000 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, taking in 450 calories through liquids didn’t make children any less hungry and they didn’t eat any less at meal time, while children who were given the same number of calories through solid foods needed to eat less food later. Liquid calories do not satisfy our or our children’s appetite, but they do increase the risk of an unhealthy weight gain. Therefore, make sure your children learn that natural options are better, and once they taste the difference they will like them more for sure. If your children want these juices to be sweater, you could put some honey into them instead of sugar.
2. Make interesting food arrangements
Children like creativity. Once they see that you’ve arranged healthy foods in an interesting ways, they will probably much rather reach for them than for some unhealthy, unimaginative foods. It is difficult to convince your children to make healthy choices sometimes, but if you make the healthy foods appealing and make sure they’re tasty, your job will be much easier.
3. Set an example
Your children look up to you. If they see you eating unhealthy foods, they will do the same and you won’t be able to convince them that they should be eating different foods. In order to get your children to start picking healthy foods over unhealthy ones, you need to let them see you eating them as well (and showing enjoyment while eating those foods would definitely help). Also, children tend to imitate their parents, so your choices have a strong impact on their behavior. Start from yourself and then explain to your children how much better you’ve been feeling since you started eating those foods, and how much tastier they are than the unhealthy ones.
4. Make home-made sweets
When you make sweets at home, you are in control of what you’re putting into them. Of course, then you can use healthy ingredients, but make sure that these sweets are tasty as well. When your children have a real home-made treat, they’ll be less likely to reach for candy later.
5. Set a time for eating candy
One way to break your children’s habit of constantly taking in sugar is to set a time in a day when treats are allowed. That could be after lunch or dinner, but at all other times of the day if your children want a shack, they should be allowed to eat a fruit or something else that is healthy.
6. Introduce new foods slowly
If your children are used to eating unhealthy foods all throughout the day, you can’t just change their entire diet into a healthy one. That would only lead to resistance, anger and frustration. If you want your children to start eating a healthier diet, introduce new foods slowly, one at a time. And, make sure they see you eating the foods before you serve it to them – once they see that you enjoy eating something they will certainly want to try it as well. If after that your children are still resisting those foods, you could tell them that strong and healthy people eat those foods, and maybe even show them pictures.
7. Get your children to help you cook
Children love being involved in whatever adults are doing. Letting them help in cooking will help them get more familiar with the healthy foods and once they produce an end product themselves, they will definitely want to try it. Even if it is a fruit salad, you can make it together and you should let your children use their imagination when it comes to arranging and adding ingredients.
8. Don’t keep much junk food in your house
Out of sight – out of mind. When your children see candies just standing there on the counter, they will be tempted to eat them. However, if there aren’t any sweets they like, they will be much likely to chose something healthier. If your child is in the mood for a sweet treat and you have nothing of the kind in the house, you could agree on making something together.
The most important thing is not to enforce anything too strongly and to stay as neutral as possible. Give your children options, but teach them to make healthier choices, and they’ll grow into healthy individuals.