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I know I’m not the only mom with picky eaters. Whether it’s getting them to eat their veggies, try new food, or eat the same dinner as the rest of the family, kids can be super picky when it comes to what they’ll eat. Bobby and I have always done our best to teach our kids to eat healthy and make good nutritional choices, but sometimes all they want is noodles and fruit snacks! Sorry kids, you have to eat your broccoli too!
It’s so important that we take the time now to teach our children about healthy eating. Childhood is a critical period for the development of eating behaviors and habits that last into adulthood. These habits play a vital role in growth, development, overall health, and the prevention of obesity and other lifelong, diet-related chronic diseases. And emerging research has really shown us that it’s not just what we feed our kids that matters but also how we handle eating that’s really important in establishing lifelong healthy habits for our kids.
Improving Nutrition and Health
To make sure my kids are learning healthy habits and nutritional values, I’ve partnered with Healthy Eating Research (HER), a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) committed to building a Culture of Health through identifying effective strategies to improve children’s nutrition and prevent childhood obesity. HER’s mission is to support and disseminate research on policy, systems, and environmental strategies that promote healthy eating among children and advance nutrition and health equity.
As a mom of four kids, this partnership is so crucial for my family and me. I want all of my children to have a healthy relationship with food. I want them to make healthy decisions as they grow up and learn to make smart choices on their own. We do our best as a family to eat healthy, but I want to establish positive eating habits now that my kids will take with them as they get older.
Getting Your Kids to Eat Their Veggies
I know that getting kids to eat right can be hard. I get it—fruit snacks are delicious! But it’s essential to establish healthy eating habits as kids so they grow into healthy adults. Thankfully, we don’t keep a lot of sugary sweets and treats in the house, but we’re not above the occasional trip to In & Out! This is why in my family, it’s all about balance. For us, that means starting small. I’m not going to take away their fruit juice and Halloween candy, but I do want them to start making mindful choices.
HER’s Recommendations for Creating Healthy Eating Habits is a set of evidence-based best practices and recommendations for feeding children. Things like structuring your food environment to create opportunities to learn can be beneficial. Small things like setting out fruit slices or offering snack-size potions of veggies will make healthy options easier to grab and eat. Let them help prep meals, so they feel like they’re part of the planning process. This way, you’re making healthy decisions together as a family.
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Establishing Long-Lasting Habits
Every mom wants to raise happy, healthy kids. And when my boss baby wants noodles instead of chicken and veggies for dinner, I don’t want to say no. If Jackson wants to stop for a burger after practice, I know it’s easier and faster than going home and making dinner. But the small decisions can make a big difference.
And setting a positive example for my kids is a great way for them to learn. Of course, I love a burger as much as the next girl! But it’s important to model healthy eating and eating in moderation. Kids look to mom and dad to know what, when, and how much to eat. When you eat and enjoy meals with kids, it’ll show them not only what to eat but how to eat in a healthy, positive way. (Plus, if you’re really enjoying those Brussel sprouts, they may want to try them too!)
Making the Best Decisions for Your Family
In my house, dinnertime can be so much fun. We always eat together and try to spend quality time with one another. But it’s always a little bit of a challenge getting my kids to eat right. So, for now, I’m happy with the little wins. When Brody opts for fresh fruit instead of fruit snacks, I’m glad. Or when the kids grab water instead of soda, I’m a happy mama.
Remember, success is going to look different for every family. Where some kids might refuse to touch a veggie, others might never try new foods. It’s important to celebrate what a win looks like in your family. In the end, it’s all about getting them to eat better, make smarter decisions, and learn how to eat healthy. It might take time and patience to find the tips that work with your littles. But once you do, you will be helping to equip your kids with healthy habits they can use as they grow up.