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As children grow and their tastes change, many parents know that mealtime can turn into a bit of a battle when it comes to healthy eating. Moms and dads want their kids to eat good, nutritious foods that will keep them physically healthy. But from toddlers to teens, there are many children who seem to have their minds made up about what should – and should not – go on their plates. Some cringe at carrots, others are determined to banish broccoli or any type of green vegetables.

Getting your kids to eat different kinds of food can be stressful. But with a few simple tips and strategies, you can get your child to eat in a healthy way, and even enjoy the good foods they are choosing. Let’s look at some of the easiest ways to make the switch to healthy diet changes.

Involve Kids While Preparing a Meal

In lots of homes, getting a meal on the table is done in a rush that often has parents sending children out of the kitchen to keep them from being underfoot. Flipping this scenario will give kids the chance to gain a whole new appreciation for the foods being put in front of them at the table. Use this meal prep time to show kids the different types of fruits and vegetables you’ll be using. If they are small, offer them a step stool or a chair to help them reach the kitchen counter, so they feel like a part of the action. Let them pick up and inspect the food. If they are old enough to do it safely, let them help cut and season the food, and stir things on the stove.

This is also a great time to share family recipes with your children. You can make memories in the kitchen while you fix foods that you loved as a child, passing down more than just a recipe. This can help kids feel enthusiastic about making home-cooked foods and it helps them understand the nutritional value – and the love – that go into their meals.

Lead the Way and Set an Example

Children watch what you say, and then the reality of what you do, when it comes to food. So if you’re preaching the benefits of eating clean and making healthy choices, but they see you skipping breakfast, grabbing chips and a candy bar when you think you’re too busy to fix lunch, and heading to a fast food drive-thru for dinner, you’re sending them mixed messages. Here are simple ways to set a good example:

  • Make sure your kids see you including healthy foods in your own diet.
  • Highlight nutrition facts while you’re selecting ingredients for meals.
  • When you’re serving healthy foods you want your children to try, keep the portion size small. They are much more likely to try a “little tree” of broccoli than a big spoonful spread across their plate. If they are still hungry, they can ask for more.
  • Try to eat meals together as a family.

Teach Them About Food and Where it Comes From

Children are naturally curious, and talking about food makes for great teachable moments. You can discuss with them why certain foods are so good for their bodies, and why it’s important to include a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and protein in their diets. You can get more detailed as children get older, explaining the difference between carbohydrates, natural fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Don’t shy away from explaining the difference between clean eating and highly-processed foods.

Don’t Ban Foods

Unless your child is allergic to peanuts, dairy or another ingredient, don’t prohibit them from eating certain foods. Let your kids be free to taste and try any food they want. For example, don’t label all sugary foods and desserts as “bad” just because you want to keep them from overindulging in sweets. Let them enjoy treats in small amounts as part of a healthy diet. One easy way to model this is to end dinner by putting a small plate of bite-sized desserts on the table for the family to share. Children can pick what they like best, whether it’s a cookie or a square of dark chocolate, and learn to savor just the right amount of dessert.

Keep Healthy Snack Options at Home

Between-meal snacks are where lots of kids’ unhealthy eating occurs. Make healthy eating easier by having good food options within their reach. Try keeping these snacks stocked:

Teach Them That a Healthy Lifestyle Is More than Just Food

When it comes to talking about how to live a healthy life, food and nutrition are great places to start. But make sure you’re giving kids the whole picture. Talk to children about how exercise, physical activity and spending time playing outside helps to build a healthy body and mind. Encourage them to try different sports, or just walk or hike with you to appreciate being out in the fresh air. Being healthy also means limiting screen time and asking them to choose activities that don’t involve electronics. Lastly, make sure they understand the importance of getting enough sleep.

There are so many things for children to learn about taking care of their bodies. Understanding the importance of nutrition is essential because the majority of people fail to get the recommended 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables every day. One way to fill the gap is to boost phytonutrients, or plant nutrients, in your diet. These natural nutrients in plants give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors and respective health benefits when consumed. One option for filling your child’s nutritional gap in their diet is with phytonutrient-rich supplements such as Nutrilite™ Kids Chewable Concentrated Fruits and Vegetables. A two-tablet daily serving is sourced from blueberries, elderberries, rosemary, acerola cherries, broccoli, spinach and carrots.

Healthy kids are usually happy kids because they feel great. A few easy changes in how you approach food and mealtimes will make health for kids a priority in your family, and open the doors for even more fun things for you to do together.