We all realize how important healthy eating habits are for kids. New parents are often meticulous about what kind of food goes into their babies — buying organic baby foods or even making their own.
Once babies become toddlers and they shift to finger-foods, something else starts to shift. Food choices become more limited because parents are looking for easy to eat, mess-free, bite-sized finger foods.
By the time school starts, many parents find that their children’s diets have become very limited. In fact, so have the parents because parents end up eating whatever they have made for their kids.
We know our kids need more variety, lots of fresh veggies, and as many nutrients as we can get into them. But how do we do it?
Make Dinner Fun
The best thing you can do as a parent (no matter what the age of your kids) is to set an example by making dinner a fun time for your family. Kids love any time that the family comes together. If you do it every day over dinner, it becomes something that kids look forward to and will participate in. (Doesn’t matter if they are toddlers or teenagers!) If you are present and happy at dinner time, your kids will be drawn to it.
Dinner cannot be a rushed after thought. It should not be a time of forcing kids to sit down and eat their vegetables. Instead, dinner should be a time of gathering as a family, preparing food, talking about our day and sampling new things. See the difference?
Offer Lots of Variety
The next thing to do is to offer a wide variety of foods. Your kids may not like everything (or anything for that matter), but the more variety they are exposed to, the more things they try, the more things they will eventually like. It’s one of the best things you can do for your kids that will prepare them for a healthy lifestyle. They will grow up not only willing to try new things, but carrying on the tradition of taking time each day for dinner and family.
For parents, Brown says the message is to be a culinary role model. If you choose healthy foods and moderate portions, your children will take note. Moreover, it’s important to start early. From Times article: Our Fattening Habits May be Set in Childhood.
That’s what we’re passionate about at The Kitchen Skinny. Offering lots of choices, making dinner fun and bringing people together over the dinner table. If you haven’t joined us yet, we hope you will!