As you start learning more about what it means to eat healthy and which foods you’ve been eating aren’t actually food, you might wonder how to get your kids on board with changes. After all, we know that an overly sugar-filled diet can alter their taste buds and ruin their palette such that they “don’t like” vegetables or other healthy foods.
There’s also the matter of public access to foods at their sporting games, school, or a friend’s house. It might feel impossible to stop them from getting their hands on foods you don’t want them to eat.
So what’s to be done?
First, you must remember that you are the parent. You make the decisions and control which foods are made available to them. You always can say “no” whenever you choose. You pay for the groceries, not your kids, which means you get to decide what goes in the cart — no matter how hard they beg.
(And believe me, I did my fair share of begging for garbage sugary cereals as a child. The answer was always, emphatically “no”. So my siblings and I would put our boxes of cereal back on the shelf and try again next time.)
Let Them Participate
If you notice any spark of interest, engage them with nutrition by exploring healthy recipes together, allowing them to help in the kitchen, and letting them pick out which vegetables they would like to try. If they feel like it was their idea or they got to contribute, they may be more excited about the changes you’re making to their food habits. Educate them about why the types of foods you’re eating as a family are different, how their bodies work, and help them feel empowered to make good choices for themselves.
Provide Healthy Options
When it comes to external access to unhealthy foods like events, friends, or family, do the same thing for them that you do for yourself. Provide a healthy option for them to eat so they get to participate with the group without eating unhealthy foods. This can also help teach them early that it’s okay to be the odd man out when it comes to doing what’s right for their bodies.
Strategize Healthy Treats
For special occasions like birthdays, strategize treats that are special and maybe a little more sugar than you child would usually be allowed to eat but contain real foods and are healthier alternatives on the whole. Bake a cake with organic ingredients and reduced sugar content instead of buying a box of Little Debbies.
No matter how bumpy the eating healthy transition goes for you and your kiddos, stick to your guns. As the parent, you call the shots, and eventually they’ll get hungry enough to eat their broccoli.