Recently, I was asked by my lovely friend Kate Toholka of SummerSalt Life to participate in a workshop which focused on introducing women to a more holistic lifestyle. I was so excited to have the opportunity to engage with others and find out more about people’s well being journeys.
One thing that seemed a big concern to many of the work shop goers was how they could extend their new wonderful healthy eating habits beyond themselves and into their families. How do you get kids to eat healthy food?
It’s a good question and I have a few ideas (after travelling this road myself over the past decade – not always successfully) that I would like to share with you…
How I get my kids to eat healthy…
1. Have a good breakfast
Filling kids up at breakfast time with nourishing whole foods is a good way to keep them from looking for snacks and treats all morning. Encourage a good start to the day with energising meals like porridge with grated apples, chopped almonds and honey or scrambled eggs and buttered toast. Smoothies are also a great way to start the day and a wonderful thing to get kids involved in making.
2. Snacks are good for kids + letting them choose.
Kids get hungry and they need lots of delicious, healthy food to keep them stay full of fun and energy – but choose snacks wisely. Fruit, nuts and seeds, home made muffins and muesli bars, chopped veggies with dip such as hummus or smashed avocado, organic cheese cubes are all good choices.
Giving kids a choice often helps promotes healthy eating. I like to make a platter for my kids with a selection of different things for them to choose from. I also take requests on weekends when I have more time and make healthy homemade versions of everyones favourites like pizza and sausage rolls.
3. Be consistent and a good role model
Don’t give up! Continue to offer healthy foods to kids – like chopped carrot and celery for example and they will eventually begin to enjoy it. Allow kids to taste food, play with it, touch it and don’t be too worried what gets left behind to begin with. Being a good role model for your children by eating healthy whole foods yourself is really important.
When there are only healthy snacks on offer, it won’t take long before kids start tucking in.
4. Be tough!
Okay…I’m probably a little tougher than some mums but it works for me. The rule in our house at dinner time is that everyone needs to at least have a go at each thing on their plate. It is up to each person whether they choose to eat or not, but if dinner doesn’t get eaten up there is nothing else – and certainly no dessert. I stick to this rule so my kids know I mean business. It also makes mealtimes a lot more peaceful too!
5. Keep it simple
Family food in my house is a very simple affair. We are so fortunate to be part of an organic fruit and vegetable co-op so what we eat depends on what arrives in our box. Our meals are simply prepared seasonal veggies and good quality meats. Kids love simple food and there is nothing wrong with good quality sausages, buttery mash and some steamed greens. Pasta with homemade pesto is quick, easy and nutritious and soup with toast spread thick with avocado is a wonderful way of getting in a good variety of vegetables too.
7. My whole food go-to foods
Here are some of the tasty treats you will find my kids filling up on:
- Fresh fruit like apples, pears, bananas, blueberries and strawberries.
- Whole grains, prepared traditionally by soaking first to optimise digestion. Brown rice, oats and quinoa are favourites.
- Good quality grass fed meats to make bolognese, sausages and meatballs and organic roasted chicken which is wonderful for the leftovers.
- Organic dried apricots, organic popcorn, good quality crackers.
- Organic cheese and full fat natural yoghurt and almond milk for the dairy sensitive.
- Dips like hummus, pesto and avocado served with chopped veggies and crackers.
- Home made treats like bliss balls, muesli bars and whole food cookies.
- Soups made with homemade stocks and broths make a great mid afternoon snack.
The final tip I have is don’t take the whole healthy eating thing too seriously – I mean it is important, of course as we absolutely are what we eat and we want to set great foundations for our children to live healthy lives, however, creating stress or anxiety around food is far more damaging than the occasional ice-cream or chocolate biscuit.
Food should be fun, it should be delicious and as close to it’s natural state as possible. Celebrate food and eating in your family, get everyone involved from growing it, buying it and preparing it and watch your kids flourish!
What are your tips for getting kids to go healthy? I would love to hear about your favourite whole food go-to meals…let’s share the love and support each other in this rewarding, but sometimes challenging mission!
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