Healthy Eating Habits for Kids
Getting kids excited about a healthy diet isn't always easy -- but it isn't impossible, either. See how real moms are stepping up to the plate to deliver yummy and healthful family meals.
Sneak in Veggies
When it comes to getting your family to eat healthfully, hiding nutritious ingredients can make a healthy meal go down easy. Try these handy tips from real moms:
- Add vegetable juice to meat loaf and chili.
- Sneak veggie purees into pancakes and mashed potatoes.
- Add chopped vegetables into tomato sauce—kids won't know the difference!
- Toss some veggies into your muffin mix, and call them cupcakes.
Have Fun with Your Food
Eating healthfully doesn't have to be boring. Spice up family suppers with a little imagination. Here's what a few moms do in their own homes:
- "I make it fun by decorating my daughter's plate with a broccoli "forest' or a funny face. Sometimes I let her have a picnic on the living room floor."
- "I combine the vegetables with another food they like—for example, pasta and peas."
- "I just act really excited about healthy foods!"
- "I serve the vegetables before the meat or starch, when the kids are hungry enough to eat anything."
- "Last summer we had our first garden, and everyone was in charge of tending to a different vegetable. The fact that the kids worked so hard to grow the food made them want to eat it."
- "I make the same meals they're used to but incorporate healthy ingredients like low-fat cheese and whole wheat pasta."
- "I don't tell them it's healthy."
Please Picky Eaters
Every good-diet obstacle has a simple solution. Try these tried-and-true tricks:
- Institute a two-bite rule for kids who refuse to try new foods. If your children really don't like a food after two bites, then it's OK not to eat it. Usually they'll end up liking the new foods.
- Have fresh fruits and veggies available for snacking family members. Clean and cut fruits and veggies into snack-size pieces to store in the fridge. When your family's tummies start grumbling, they'll have a quick, easy and healthy option to munch on.
- Add a veggies to heat-and-eat food. Some nights, cooking is just impossible. When the schedule is swamped and you're short on time, pick up a pre-fab dinner, but add a side of steamed veggies or a fresh salad to keep it healthy.
- Plan ahead. On days when you have time to cook, double the recipe. Instant leftovers for busy nights.
If you're trying to cut down on junk food purchases, these easy approaches can help:
- Shop the outer aisles of the grocery store. It'll help you focus on fresh, instead of prepackaged, foods.
- Check labels at the store. Unhealthy ingredients will be less likely to sneak home with you.
- Opt for yogurt and fruit instead of candy.
- Buy a small number of treats for your kids each month. When they're gone, that's it until the following month.
Be a Savvy Snacker
If your kids would rather eat fruit than veggies, they're not alone. More than 80 percent of moms say their kids prefer fruit. So it's no wonder apples are their No. 1 healthy snack, followed by grapes, bananas, oranges, and clementines. Here are some other successful snack ideas:
- Non-buttery air-popped popcorn
- Hummus on whole wheat toast
- Whole grain Goldfish crackers
- Real fruit leather
- Baby carrots with dill dip
- Strawberries with a small amount of chocolate syrup
- Celery and peanut butter
- Homemade fruit smoothies with yogurt
- Granola bars with dried fruit and nuts
- Cucumbers cut like French fries
- Mini shredded wheat
Save Money on Produce
Stretch your produce dollar with these tips from Phil Lempert, founder of SuperMarketGuru.com:
- Bag your own. Items such as grapes and broccoli often are sold in premeasured bundles. AS a result, you can end up buying more than you'll actually eat. Instead, grab a plastic produce bag and take only what you'll use in the coming days.
- Eat for the season. "Strawberries sold in the winter have been flown thousands of miles and consumers pay the price," Lempert says. To see what fruits and veggies are at their peak, go to USDA.gov and type "What's in season" in the search box.
- Consider precut produce. Sure, you pay for the convenience of not having to slice that pineapple yourself. But you won't get stuck paying for parts you can't eat, such as the rind. Compare costs closely; precut produce might be the better deal.
- Store it right. Wasted produce means wasted money. To slow spoilage, set your fridge temp to 40°F or below. Check out more storage tips