Family · Health · Kids

Get your picky child to eat healthy

Eat your vegetables!!!

Have you ever shouted this at your child? 

Yea, I have too! 

Does your kid only eat chicken nuggets, pizza and french fries?

Don’t worry because you are not alone!!!

When kid’s are being picky and you just want them to eat their vegetables it can be hard to convince to even try the vegetables.  My children are 5 and almost 3, for the last two years I’ve been working so hard to get them to eat their vegetables.  What I’ve learned is that forcing them to eat isn’t going to work, but that we have to educate them about why they need to eat their vegetables.

The other day we were at a birthday party with my 5 year old and when it came time for the cake he refused.  Yes, I was in shock too!  What I realized right away…well after my shock went away, was that he wasn’t hungry.  He ate a ton of food before we left, including a Greek yogurt and 1/2 of his brother’s Greek yogurt as well as a grilled cheese.  Teaching him about listening to his body, eating when he’s hungry and educating him about what foods help fill his belly have actually worked.  I’ve been saying it for a long time, but not sure if it was getting through to him or not.  Well, clearly it was and I was so proud of him and of me for sticking to my guns when times were hard and he only wanted to eat chicken nuggets, pizza and french fries.

Here are the 10 tips I use to help my children understand healthy eating and why we need to eat our vegetables.

10 tips to get your picky child to eat healthy:

  1. Never force a child to eat if they aren’t hungry – you want to teach your child to learn to listen to his/her body, so that when they are full the stop eating.
  2. Always offer options – Your child wants a snack, always offer a fruit and vegetable as an option even if they don’t choose it. They may surprise you one day and opt for that apple over those crackers.
  3. Educate! Educate! Educate! One day we won’t be there to tell our child that eating a dozen donuts is not going to make them feel good.  When we explain to them why foods like fruits and vegetables are good for our body and why other foods don’t make us feel good than they know the reason and will take that with them for the rest of their lives.
  4. Allow your child to vocalize how they feel about certain foods, and be open to listening to them if they like or don’t like a certain food.  Ask them why?  What do they like or not like about it?  This will help you as a parent better understand them and be able to offer foods they are more likely to enjoy.  
  5. Let them have those special treats like cookies, cake, ice cream and juice.  Just not on a daily basis.  This goes back to teaching them what foods are good for us and what foods we only eat on special occasions.  
  6. Take your child grocery shopping with you.  Yes, I know it’s a pain and makes grocery shopping take longer, but it is worth it, even if you only do it once a month.  Let them pick out the foods they want for the week, and this time together also gives you a chance to do more education on what foods are good for us and what foods aren’t good for our body.
  7. Try not to give in to their demands or tantrums for certain foods if you know they need to eat real wholesome food.  Giving in here and there is ok, but when we give in all the time they start to know that and it takes longer to change their mind.  Allow the tantrum to happen, allow them the time to be angry and mad.  You need to stand your ground, because those moments are much more than just a single moment, this is teaching your child how to fuel their body properly for the rest of their life.  That being said, sometimes you just need to make the crying stop and let them have the cookie.  That’s ok too.
  8. Be prepared with healthy food you don’t have to prepare.  For those nights your child won’t eat dinner, or only wants sugary cereal for breakfast, get some quick food in your kitchen that can be given immediately.  My kids don’t want dinner, they can have an apple, banana or carrots with peanut butter. I also like to make a batch of healthy protein filled pancakes and freeze them for a quick breakfast or snack.
  9. Keep healthy foods at their level and easy to grab.  Wash and pre-cut fruit and veggies, place in bowls in the fridge that they (and you) can quickly grab when searching for that perfect snack.  
  10. You need to eat fruits and veggies often, and when you are snacking or eating allow them to have a taste.  I know my toddler always wants to try what we have, and when I’m snacking on carrots or grapes you can bet he’s next to that table eating too.  Yet if I would offer to get him his own bowl he wouldn’t eat them.  

Changing a child’s eating habits is difficult so patience is a must.  Don’t expect them to be happy with these changes or adjust to them immediately.  I mean think about how you feel when you try a new diet or remove something from your diet.  It’s hard and you’re miserable right?  

This is going to take time, but don’t give up.  This is your child’s well-being and health for the rest of their life.  It’s worth it.  Never stop educating or talking about healthy eating.  I’m amazed when my 5 year old repeats something I’ve been saying over and over again about how fruits and veggies help you grow.  They may not say anything, but they are always listening and watching.  

Good luck and God-speed my friend!!  

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