Kids seem to be born critics. From the time mine were small they had strong opinions about the clothes they wore, the activities they participated in, what time they should go to bed, and the foods they ate. Of course, that’s all part of growing up, but the challenge for parents who are trying to lose weight is to shift their children’s opinions of healthy eating. Because let’s face it, a lot of kids would rather have chips over carrots and cheeseburgers over grilled chicken.
Here are seven ways to get your kids to buy into healthy eating. It will be good for them and make weight loss easier for you.
1. Shop as a family
In my book, I recommend shopping alone so you can focus on your list and not be swayed by your children’s whims and wants. However, if your kids are old enough to be reasoned with, start taking them food shopping with you. Show them nutrition labels, talk about how the grocery store is laid out, and let them experience what it’s like to select fresh fruits and vegetables.
2. Talk it up
We are a family of talkers. Our dinner table topics range from politics to gardening and everything in between. Talk about healthy eating with your kids in a positive way. This is especially important if you are making a big shift from unhealthy eating to healthier selections.
3. Ask for input
As you plan your meals, ask your children what their favorite meals are. If they want your totally unhealthy tater tot casserole, do some internet research together and find a healthier alternative.
4. Slowly replace junk snacks with healthy ones
It’s always a good idea to rid your pantry of unhealthy foods when you are starting a diet, but it's trickier to do that when you have a family. After all, you don’t want a rebellion on your hands. Slowly replace junk snacks like cheese crackers, packaged sweets, and candy with healthier ones. As the junk food runs out, buy a better alternative. Some kid-friendly snacks include:
- Low-sugar granola bars
- Cheese sticks
- Hummus and whole wheat crackers
- Dark chocolate squares (you might have to dole these out so they don’t disappear all at once)
- Cut-up vegetables and dip
5. Get them cooking
One of the best things I did when making a total lifestyle change was involve my kids in the cooking process. Remember that even young children can help cook with proper supervision. As you prepare roasted vegetables or get ready to roast or grill the meat, explain different cooking processes. If your kids are anything like mine, they will more readily eat food they help prepare.
6. Don’t ditch dessert
We still have dessert regularly even though I’m all about healthy eating. If you try to take away all the food treats in your kids' lives they will be unhappy and definitely not buy into a new healthier lifestyle. So have dessert but do it in a smart, weight loss friendly way. Make it special, serve small portions, and don’t overanalyze it with your kids. Just show them it’s okay to have treats as long as it's in moderation.
7. Lead by example
If you’ve been making changes for yourself and are finally losing weight because of those changes, don’t stop now. Your younger children probably won’t pay attention to whether you’ve lost weight, but your older kids will definitely notice. Stay committed to improving your eating habits. Kids often emulate what they see. What better habits to follow than your example of making good food choices day after day?