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For many of us, the New Year’s resolution will be to eat better food. While our kids may protest against our goals for a healthier year, our job is to get them back on the right track.
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If your kids are indulging in holiday treats, we’ve got some tried-and-true ideas to help eat healthy this year—and enjoy doing it—to prepare them for healthy, healthy eating habits moving forward.
1. Scheduling meals and snacks
Just like hungry adults, kids will have the quickest and easiest option available. Don’t wait for their stomachs to scream, while all that satiates them is high-fat foods.
Babies need to eat every three to four hours. This includes three meals, two snacks, and plenty of fluids such as milk and water. Just make sure you are consistent when it comes to timing, and don’t force the kids to eat if they aren’t hungry. This way your children will learn to develop their own hunger cues so that they can finally take control of their healthy eating habits.
If you plan in advance by providing healthy snacks, your child’s diet will be more balanced. That means keeping smart snacks on hand (sandwich bags can help) for long car rides, errands, and play dates. Apples, carrots, popcorn, pretzels, nuts, and yogurt are all great options for traveling well and keeping kids healthy in eating.
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2. Pay attention to breakfast
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Babies’ developing bodies require a healthy breakfast to refuel their bodies and brains and get their glucose levels back on track after a night of rest. Studies have shown that a healthy breakfast is vital to academic performance and emotional regulation and that children who eat breakfast are more likely to have better health habits in general.
Look for treats that are low in sugar and high in fiber to start their day on a strong note. For kids on the go, nut butter toasts, smoothies, and breakfast cakes are great options that will give them a boost of energy and help them stay focused on their morning activities.
3. Make the food an enjoyable size
Junk food manufacturers know that feeding kids is fun, and bite-sized shapes make them addictive. Babies are more willing to eat vegetables and other healthy foods if they are cut into small bites that can puff into their mouths. Essentially these cute cutters turn food into bite-sized puzzle pieces that are easy to eat and fun to assemble.
Funded BPA-Free Plastic Blade Cutter shark tank Perfect for making healthy food more enjoyable. Moreover, since it is made of plastic, rather than metal, kids can get into the preparations to make the snacks more exciting.
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4. Get the kids to cook
Every expert will tell you: if children manage to eat it, they are more likely to eat it. Handmade pizzas, fajitas, sandwiches, loaded fries, pasta bowls, yogurt parfaits and more make cooking fun and will introduce kids to an array of healthy toppings. In addition, they offer a fun family activity focused on food. We also like the food groups to excite kids’ tastes. Eat2Explore is one of our favorites.
Get the kids involved in the prep work using child-safe tools. This set contains everything they need to become a culinary expert, including mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, mixing spoons, silicone spatula, whisk, rolling pin, kitchen timer, pastry brush, cookie stirrer, oven mitts, apron, And – of course – a chef’s hat for full visual impact.
5. Play with your food
Who said you shouldn’t play with your food? What if you could make healthy eating a game? If your child refuses to overeat his healthy food, this dish will spice things up—literally! Designed by a picky eater mom and dad, this plate has spaces for placing small, manageable portions of tough foods. There is a game disc in the middle to randomly choose the foods to try.
Get the SpinMeal Plate on Amazon for $19.99
6. Get a dip!
Never underestimate the strength of a ranch sauce. If your kids don’t eat their vegetables, try decorating them with delicious seasonings, dressings and dips. A little hummus is packed with protein and makes all the vegetables taste better, while a hearty salad dressing like ranch and green goddess will have your kids asking for another round of carrot sticks.
Get 4 Pack Salad Dressing to Go at Amazon for $11.99
7. Get your lunch on the right track
Bento box lunch boxes are always a great choice to get patrons to eat the rainbow. The problem is, who has the time to prepare nice, vitamin-packed lunches every morning? Regardless of our best intentions, we’re inevitably going back to ham and cheese sandwiches and chips in a few weeks.
These bento box meal trays are just what you need to prepare a Sunday night meal to take you all week. Each drawer allows you to prep your lunches and then seal them so they’re ready to go into your Bentgo brand kids lunch box.
8. Don’t be afraid of frozen foods
Frozen or canned foods aren’t a conditional—as long as you read the labels. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are generally processed at the peak of maturity, so they can be more flavorful and more nutrient-dense than fresh. Just make sure the canned food is low in sodium and packed in water as opposed to oil or syrup.
For frozen meals, our parenting editor recommends easy, frozen nighttime dinners at Little Spoon. With winning meals like stir-fries of chicken with stir-fry quinoa and edamame and black bean pupusas with Spanish vegetarian rice, you’ll be grateful to have these delicious dishes on hand when all your other New Year’s resolutions come crashing down. Since these kid-friendly dishes are frozen, you always have an option available for quick, healthy, nutrient-packed meals full of flavour.
Get a Little Spoon starting at $4.99 per serving
9. Get an ongoing meal plan
One of the biggest reasons families fail to maintain healthy eating decisions is that we are simply disorganized with the hustle and bustle of our day. The review’s parenting team swears by Skylight Calendar for keeping our lives organized with tons of activities and to-do lists and – as a bonus – keeping our meals organized too.
The calendar also includes a grocery list and meal planning app to help keep you on track with your healthy meals. The app has a specific meal plan option that you can fill out from your phone and it will be published in the Skylight Calendar. Simply add a meal every night to your calendar every week and voilà – it’s meal planning in the easiest and most family-friendly way.
Get the Skylight Frame Calendar for $159
10. Allow Rewards (in moderation)
Making sweet and savory things forbidden will make kids want them more. Instead of eating less healthy snacks, leave them in moderation. We allow a festive donut on Fridays after school after a long week of hard work in class. We also keep a box of our favorite sugary cereal on hand, but instead of letting it go for breakfast, it’s our favorite dessert for a family movie night.
As for McDonald’s, we try to keep it to a minimum but a happy meal once or twice a month is an exciting treat. As long as children view these foods as a special exception, rather than going to dinner, they will be made to learn how to enjoy less nutritious foods without overeating.
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