How do you get your kids to eat so well? As a parent of 3 children, ages 8, 6 and 4, I know firsthand the challenges of getting your children to eat healthy! When I learned what my kids ate had a direct effect on their behavior, I knew I had no choice but to change their diet! Today my children willingly eat NO Gluten/Casein/ Soy, refined sugar, food dyes or ANYTHING we can’t pronounce! Snacks are fresh organic fruits and veggies, and treats and bread are homemade! Their progress has been nothing short of astounding, so much so that 6 months into our dietary changes my son graduated out of his special education class and is now mainstreamed with no modifications! So when people ask me how I do it, I respond, “it is just NOT optional, it’s a part of our life!”
So whether you want to try dietary interventions, or you just want to establish lifelong healthy eating habits, I came up with a few tips that helped me on my journey! I hope they will help you, too!
ENERGY, ENERGY, ENERGY! Positive Energy! Need I say more? If you truly believe in something and you keep your goal surrounded in positive Energy, you will succeed!
Be Creative & Deceptive! Muffins, breads and baked goods are wonderful ways to hide healthy foods! Juicing and smoothies are also a great way to add a few tablespoons of spinach! I make homemade popsicles with blueberry juice and spinach puree. Just be sure to add it SLOWLY, there is nothing like your kiddo loving something, and then getting over eager and adding too much on the second round only for your child to never touch it again!
Have Fun! Picnic in the living room, anyone? No hands, broccoli eating contest? The goal is healthy food, manors can come later, for now just have fun!
Be respectful! You don’t want to be forced to eat something you don’t like, so don’t force it on your child! And if they can’t have it, certainly do not keep it in the house! I NEVER have to say no, because it is just not there to say no too!
Always INCLUDE, never exclude! Make sure your children ALWAYS have healthy, acceptable alternatives if there is a party, function or special snack at school. While it is acceptable for MOST kids to have cake at a party or occasional treats, if your child has a severe reaction like mine did, offending foods are completely off limits, 100% percent of the time. No questions asked! So be sure they NEVER feel left out!
Reward well! Okay, let’s call it what it is, bribery! I typically don’t advise rewarding with food, but some children need an immediate positive reinforcer for trying new foods. For my son, every bite of healthy food was immediately rewarded with a mini-chocolate chip! We then faded out the reinforcer to one “treat” after dinner and then eventually stopped rewarding all together.
Communicate well. Just because your child doesn’t speak, or is limited in their communication doesn’t mean they don’t understand or can’t feel your energy! From day one I explained to my kids WHY our diet was changing and what we wanted to accomplish. I explained how much fun it was going to be, and there would be NOTHING we couldn’t have!