Encouraging healthy eating in young children

If you are a parent, getting your children to eat healthy fruits and vegetables can be a struggle at times.  Encouraging healthy eating in young children can seem downright impossible.  Maggie went through a phase where all she wanted was junk food and it was so frustrating!  I was willing to try anything to get her eating healthy foods again.

How to encourage healthy eating in young children

One change I made before Maggie was even born, was to start keeping more healthy food options around.  I am a picky eater and I hate that.  But, at 34 years old, it’s hard to convince myself to eat more foods.  When I open the fridge for something to eat, if the healthy options are the ones there, they will get eaten more often.

 

Plain and simple, expose your kids to healthy options.  Have a wide variety available for them to choose from.  The easiest, and funnest way that we have found to do this, is to go to the farmers market.  Maggie begs to go all the time.  Plus, we get home and a lot of the foods can be left on the counter, mainly tomatoes.  The other night, before bed, Maggie sat and ate a bunch of little tomatoes!

Encouraging healthy eating habits in young children

Let them choose.  Let your kids pick out the fruit or vegetable at mealtime.  Because it’s their choice, they are more likely to eat it.  Yet another reason I love the farmers market.  Maggie’s recent favorite is raspberries and she will carry them around and eat half of the container right away.

 

Let them help.  Even better than choosing what veggies to have for dinner, let them help prepare it.  Maggie felt like such a big girl cutting up the veggies for tacos.

Encouraging healthy eating habits in young children

Have healthy play food options.  My kids, and all of the kids that come over love the play kitchen.  We got some great, healthy play food.  Just today, Maggie says, we are having a picnic, here is your pepper, and hands me the red pepper to eat while she eats the yellow one.  I’m calling this a win!

Learning Resources bushel of veggies, Encouraging healthy eating habits in young children

Did I mention, lead by example?  It’s a given, whatever you have, they will want it.  Eat those fruits and veggies, and let them see you do it!  Get out and explore.  Aside from the farmer’s market, you can visit the apple orchard, blueberry patch, raspberries, or strawberries, or the pumpkin patch.  My kids love picking up the gourds and squash and touching them, feeling them, and they love it when it’s time to eat them!

 

And, here’s one that you won’t see too often – let them watch the Copy Kids DVD.  We got this DVD to review, and I was very skeptical!  I mean, seriously, is a DVD going to really change how my child eats?  But I will try it.  So, I popped it into the computer and she sat down.  She gets very little screen time, so she really loved it!

copy kids logo

Copy Kids DVD is for kids, ages 6 months to 5 years, to watch and hopefully develop good eating habits.  The DVD is made up of 12 segments, 7 minutes each of kids ranging from 9 months to 4 years old eating a fruit or veggie.  The kids just love watching other kids eat, I don’t get it, but they sure do love it.  After only watching this one time, here is what Maggie did {and let me preface this by saying the child has a serious addiction to snacking – she thinks it should happen all day long}.  This happened just a few minutes after watching this.

 

Maggie:  Mom, I want an apple.  Can I have an apple?

Me:  Sure honey, go ahead.

Maggie:  {Opens fridge, grabs a tomato}

Me:  That’s not an apple honey, it’s a tomato.

Maggie:  Oh.  I’m going to eat my apple.

Me:  {Curious to see what she thinks b/c she use to love tomatoes, but suddenly wouldn’t eat them}

Maggie:  {Finishes the entire tomato}

 

You can bet my skepticism was gone.  Really, it was that easy to get her to choose something that I want her to eat instead of trying to find crackers or something?  Okay.  Sign me up!

Encouraging healthy eating habits in young children

I love that the Copy Kids DVD shows different kids, of different ages eating each food.  And, the food isn’t all prepared the same.  Sometimes it is whole, sometimes it is sliced.  These little kids look so cute with a full size pepper that she is chomping on.  To be completely honest with you, it never occurred to me to give my kids bell peppers to snack on.  So, I sliced up a green pepper one day, put it on the kids plates, and wouldn’t you know – turns out to be one of Charlie’s favorites, and one that Maggie routinely asks for.  Bonus points because it turned out to be one of my favorite veggies to snack on!  Not joking here – we had tacos tonight, Maggie helped me cut up the tomatoes and lettuce {hurray for lettuce knives}.  So, I let her dish up her own plate.  She put on some meat, a few tomatoes, a bunch of lettuce, and then…the entire bell pepper.  This cracked me up!

Encouraging healthy eating habits in young children

The DVD features these 12 fruits and vegetables.  Bell Peppers, bananas, oranges, carrots, strawberries, avocado, raspberries, tomatoes, apples, broccoli, cucumber, and blueberries.  You can also watch the interview with pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon, as well as some entertaining outtakes.  
 
I am so glad that we have this Copy Kids DVD in our arsenal.  While it doesn’t replace teaching them good habits, it is a great tool to help us, as parents to encourage healthy habits.  After all, they aren’t always in the mood to listen to us, but the DVD on the screen has staying power with them!
 
*Disclosure:  I received the DVD in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions are 100% my own and only influenced by our experiences with the product and company.*

14 Comments

  • All great tips! I like to use:

    1. Lead by example.
    2. Be positive about healthy eating!
    3. Educate children (age appropriate information) about vegetables, fruits, and healthy eating (& why it’s important).
    4. Let the children help.
    5. Visit farmer’s market.
    6. Grow our own grub!
    7. Try one new or exotic fruit a month, for fun!

    Favorite vegetable is tomato.

    • Those are all great tips! I forgot about the be positive bit, but that is one we really push for. I refuse to let meal time be a struggle!

  • An entire bell pepper lol. I have heard great things about Copy Kids with picky eaters. My kiddo spits out everything he tries. I would love to try this.

  • My best healthy eating tips are to try anything, and prepare things different ways for them and try them again often. My daughter will spit anything out, even things she likes, or liked less than a week ago. Their taste buds are always changing and if they are into a certain fruit or vegetable let them eat all they want of it! Their taste buds will probably be different next week even! My daughter Katelynn’s current favorite vegetable is heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market 🙂

  • my kids all love broccoli. I didnt have to do anything special to get them to eat their veggies . they will eat anything we are eating.

  • My tip is to prepare/serve healthy foods in different ways. Maybe :
    . Baked apples
    . Use healthy dips with veggies/fruit

    I think it’s very true that kids will imitate their favorite characters. Also, letting kids choose amongst healthy options and helping with meal preparation is an effective strategy.

    My daughter’s favorite veggie is spinach.

  • Lead by example is a biggie! & then, we also like to try and make food an adventure of exploration! I try to pick out one fruit or vegetable each week that we have never tried, and hype up the mystery. Then we do a taste test! It’s a lot of fun. 🙂

  • I’m in that really lucky phase where she eats everything I put in front of her (you all had one year olds at one point!) I’m scared for the “I don’t want this” phase. 🙁

    I guess we’ll get that DVD, and use some of these examples when we get there! Thanks!

  • Great tips! I did baby led weaning w/ my daughter. She’s just now turned 2 but is still very picky. I try to give her pretty healthy options, though she will gravitate towards junk. Church nursery programs don’t help much b/c they always offer goldfish as the snack, which drives me nuts!

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