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For many of us, our New Year’s resolution will be to eat better. While our children may protest our goals for a healthier year, it is our job to get them back on track.
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If your kids have been indulging in holiday treats, we’ve got some tried and true ideas to help them eat healthier this year – and have fun doing it – to establish good healthy eating habits for the future.
1. Schedule meals and snacks
Like a hungry adult, children will choose the quickest and easiest option available. Don’t wait until your stomach is growling, when all that will fill you up is high-fat foods.
Children need to eat every three to four hours. That includes three meals, two snacks, and lots of fluids like milk and water. Just be sure to be consistent about timing and don’t force kids to eat if they’re not hungry. In this way, your children will learn to develop their own hunger signals so that they can eventually take control of their own healthy eating habits.
By planning ahead and having healthy snacks available, your child’s diet will be much more balanced. That means keeping smart snacks on hand (sandwich bags can help) for long car trips, errands, and play dates. Apples, carrots, popcorn, pretzels, nuts, and yogurt are great options that travel well and keep kids’ healthy diets on track.
Get Lunchskins Reusable Sandwich Bags at Amazon starting at $ 10.47
2. Pay attention to breakfast
Breakfast is really the most important meal of the day. Children’s developing bodies require a healthy breakfast to replenish their bodies and brains and to regain their glucose levels after a night of rest. Studies have shown that a healthy breakfast is vital for academic performance and emotional regulation, and children who eat breakfast are more likely to have better overall health habits.
Look for low-sugar, high-fiber fixes to start your day strong. For kids on the go, nut butter toast, smoothies, and breakfast muffins are great options that will give them a boost of energy and help them stay focused for morning activities.
3. Make the food a fun size
Junk food manufacturers know that feeding kids fun, bite-sized shapes gets them hooked. Children are more likely to eat vegetables and other healthy foods if they are cut into small bites that they can put in their mouths. These cute cutters basically turn food into bite-sized puzzle pieces that are easy to eat and fun to put together.
These BPA-free plastic blade cutters that won funding at Shark tank they are perfect for making healthy food more fun. Plus, because they’re made of plastic, rather than metal, kids can get involved in the preparation to make snacks even more exciting.
Get FunBites on Amazon starting at $ 9.99
4. Get the kids to cook
Every expert will tell you: if children make it, they are more likely to eat it. Homemade pizzas, fajitas, sandwiches, loaded potatoes, pasta bowls, yogurt parfaits and more make cooking fun and will expose kids to a variety of healthy ingredients. Plus, it’s a fun, food-centric family activity. We also like food kits to stimulate children’s palates. Eat2Explore is one of our favorites.
Get kids involved in prep work with kid-safe tools. This set has everything you need to become a culinary master, including mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, mixing spoons, silicone spatula, whisk, rolling pin, kitchen timer, pastry brush, cookie turners, gloves. oven rack, apron, and of course a chef’s hat for a complete visual effect.
5. Play with your food
Who says you shouldn’t play with your food? What if you could make a healthy eating game? If your child refuses to increase their intake of healthy foods, this dish will put a fun spin on things – literally! Designed by a picky eater’s mom and dad, this plate has spaces to put small, manageable portions of tough foods. A spinning game is in the middle to randomly select which foods to try.
Get the SpinMeal Dish on Amazon for $ 19.99
Never underestimate the power of ranch dressing. If your kids don’t eat your veggies, try sweetening them with delicious condiments, dressings, and sauces. A little hummus is packed with protein and makes all the veggies taste better, while creamy salad dressings like ranch and green goddess will have your kids ordering another round of carrot sticks.
Get the 4-Pack Salad Dressing Containers To Go on Amazon for $ 11.99
7. Put your lunch on the right track
Bento box lunch boxes are always a great option for your shepherds to eat a rainbow. The problem is, who has time to pack pretty, colorful, vitamin-packed lunches every morning? No matter what our best intentions are, we inevitably go back to ham and cheese sandwiches and French fries in a few weeks.
These bento box food trays are just what you need to pack your Sunday night meal through the week. Each tray allows you to prepare lunches ahead of time and then seal them until ready to be placed in a Bentgo brand kids lunch box.
8. Don’t be afraid of frozen foods.
Frozen or canned foods are no escape, as long as you read the labels. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are generally processed at their peak of ripeness, so they can be more flavorful and nutrient-dense than fresh ones. Just make sure canned foods are low in sodium and packed in water rather than oil or syrup.
When it comes to frozen meals, our Parenting editor recommends Little Spoon’s Easy Frozen Weekday Dinners. With winning meals like chicken nuggets with sautéed vegetables and quinoa and black bean pupusas and edamame with vegetarian Spanish rice, you’ll be grateful to have these delicious dishes on hand when all your other New Year’s resolutions fall apart. Because these kid-friendly dishes are frozen, you always have an option on hand for quick, healthy, nutrient-dense meals that are packed with flavor.
Get Little Spoon starting at $ 4.99 per meal
9. Put in place an eating plan
One of the main reasons families fail to meet their healthy eating goals is that we simply get disorganized with the hustle and bustle of our day. The Reviewed Parent Team swears by Skylight Calendar for keeping our lives organized with numerous activities and to-do lists and as a bonus, it also keeps our meals organized.
The calendar also has a shopping list and meal planning app, to help you keep your healthy meals on track. The app has a specific meal plan option that you can fill out from your phone and it will populate in the Skylight Calendar. Just add each night’s meal to the calendar each week and voilà – it’s meal planning at its easiest and most familiar.
Get the Skylight Frame Calendar for $ 159
10. Allow treats (in moderation)
Banning sweet or savory treats will only make kids want them more. Instead of forbidding less healthy snacks, allow them in moderation. We allow a celebratory donut on Fridays after school after a long week of hard work in the classroom. We also have a box of our favorite sugary cereal on hand, but instead of allowing it for breakfast, it’s our favorite dessert for 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 kids consider them a special exception, instead of a take out dinner, it will set them up to learn how to enjoy less nutritious foods without overdoing it.
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