Just yesterday my son, who is 15 said, “Mom, I want to eat healthy.” I looked at him in disbelief and thought, "Hallelujah Thank You Jesus!"
You can’t make your children or anyone for that matter want to eat healthy. As parents we can try to force the issue but eventually they will be adults and that will be out of your control. So while they are still in your house let’s teach them a lesson that they will never forget, just like I will never forget all the delicious and healthy home cooked meals my mother gave me!
Set a good example. Practice what you preach if they see you enjoying your healthy meals and snacks they will most definitely want to have some.
Meals should be nutritious. Serve whole foods as much as you can. This means limit the processed foods. They will get used to what food is supposed to taste like and not want anything else.
Drink Water. Make sure the water you serve at home is purified and free of toxins.
Do not use food as a reward. If your child has done something that you want to reward give them more time spent with you or if they are teenagers (and that isn’t such a treat) give them movie tickets or something they will enjoy with friends!
Have Healthy Snacks Out. I always try to put vegetables, fruit, nuts or healthy snacks on table for my kids when they get home from school. It’s important for them to see it out and not have to search for it when they get home and are tired.
Get you kids involved in shopping and cooking. For Christmas I asked my kids to cook me dinner so over winter break each took a turn shopping and cooking dinner for me. It gave them an appreciation of how much work it is also how rewarding it is to make a nutritious meal.
Plant a garden or join a CSA. When the kids were little we had a garden and it was wonderful, working and watching something grow. Now that they are older and life got busier we joined a CSA where they can pick from a local farm that we bought a share from. It helps us eat organic at a lower cost and it pushes us to eat foods we wouldn’t normally eat.
Organize your frig and pantry with healthy items. I try to keep my frig and pantry well stocked with foods that are fresh and healthy. I try to have on hand foods that are ready to eat up front!
Eat together as a family. I try as much as possible to eat dinner as a family. This is important to sit down and slowly chew your food and enjoy eating and each other. This is important so they see what you are eating and you can see what your children are eating and how much. This is important when tracking growth spurts and it helps me figure out how to shop with more precision.
Look out for food allergies and reactions. If your child has a stomach ache, rash or is excessively hyperactive or underactive it could be a reaction to the food they are eating.
I’m not saying be perfect we take our occasional trip to Cold Stone Creamery or 5 Guys but that should be a treat not the norm. Maybe one day your teenage child will say…”I want to eat healthy” then you have done your job!!!