Health Advocate Blog

Helping your kids eat healthier

Does your kitchen table become a battleground during mealtimes? Do you find yourself in a war of wills when it comes to feeding your child? If so, you may find these tips helpful!

Things to do:

  • Be a role model. How can you expect your kids to eat healthy if they don’t see you eating healthy? Be sure that your eating habits are in line with your expectations for your kids.
  • Set them up for success. Stock your kitchen with a variety of healthy foods. Keep healthier options more accessible and visible. Store unhealthier foods out of reach and where they aren’t easily seen.
  • Start small. It’s easy to forget that kids don’t need as much food as you. If they’re hungry, they can always ask for seconds!
  • Involve them in shopping, prep and cooking. This will help them feel like they have a choice, as opposed to it being something you’re making them do. Not only may they be more willing to eat healthy options, but they might also start developing healthy habits for the future.
  • Show them all foods taste good. If you react negatively every time you eat broccoli, chances are they will too.
  • Help them experience different types of foods. Encouraging children to try a variety of foods can help them be less picky.
  • Serve everyone dessert. If you only give dessert to children that finish their dinner, dessert becomes a reward or treat that’s more valuable than the actual meal. Giving everyone dessert and treating it as just another part of dinner makes it neutral and just as important as the meal itself.
  • Encourage good behavior with positive reinforcement. If you’re happy that your kids ate all of their vegetables at dinner, tell them! This will help reinforce the good behavior.

Things to avoid:

  • Don’t let them fill up on milk. Milk may be the beverage of choice for kids, but it also happens to be filling, especially if that is all they drink throughout the day. As a result, they may be less likely to eat. Offer them water or 100 percent fruit juice mixed with water.
  • Avoid bartering with dessert. This teaches them to value dessert over their actual meal.
  • Don’t cook multiple meals. Picky eaters can make cooking a challenge; make sure there is at least one thing at each meal that they’ll eat, but don’t cook them a whole separate meal.
  • Prevent power struggles. Avoid negotiating over number of bites. It isn’t easy to figure out when they are full, still hungry or are just not interested in eating, but if you make them eat too much, it will be difficult for them to learn to regulate their hunger.
  • Avoid giving them the spotlight. Sometimes kids will refuse to eat or give you a hard time about eating simply because they like the attention.
  • Don’t let them snack whenever they want. Set designated snack times to help prevent overeating.

For Health Advocate Members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our Wellness Program, call us today to connect with a Wellness Coach for more great tips to keep your family healthy!