One of the dilemmas in raising children is when they begin to become picky eaters. A lot of parents complain that their children only eat junk foods such as chips, cookies, and crackers during snack time and they do not want to eat fruits and veggies. If you’re children never consider to eat healthy snacks even meat, nuts, or cheese, then maybe it’s time to take some action and figure out how to get them to eat healthy snacks.
Most children like to eat junk foods because of the same reason why adults do, which is because of the good taste. Aside from that, children start to only eat junk foods because eating typical foods such as toast or diced fruits might be too challenging for them. It is also possible that they have feeding difficulties. Junk foods are much easier to eat for children because they offer flavors that kids respond to. These foods are carb based which most children are literally wired to eating.
Children usually crave for sweet foods because it gives them energy. Aside from that, lots of junk foods are crunchy which many picky eaters prefer. Crunchy foods are much easier for children to eat compared to soft foods because they can feel where those foods are in their mouth. Also, eating soft foods such as mashed potato feels weird in their mouth and they lose track of it when they try to chew it.
If you are looking for ways on how to get your children to eat healthier snacks instead of junk foods, then you’re in the right place. Today, we are going to give you tips on how to get your kids to eat healthily.
1. Keep Healthy Snacks at Home
To encourage your children to eat healthy snacks, it’s important that they see you buying fresh foods in the store and unloading then onto your kitchen shelves. You can also have your children help you in unloading the groceries. You can also take them with you to the grocery store and ask them to get fruits and vegetables and load them in the cart. Then when you get home, ask them to help you unpack the bags and let them know where the foods should go. This way, your children will get used to seeing healthier foods which may eventually make them try to eat.
2. Be a Role Model in Eating Healthy Snacks
When you buy healthy foods and snacks, you also need to make sure that you are eating those foods or you eat them with your children. But when doing so, avoid telling them lines such as, “Look, Mommy is eating an apple, it’s good and it will make you strong. Do you want to try?”. It’s because this can pressure your children to eat healthily. You can just simply let them watch you eat the fruit and talk about it objectively. Instead, you can tell them, “This is a delicious apple and did you know that sometimes apples are added to pies because of their wonderful taste?”. That can make them become interested and curious about how the food taste like.
3. Always Serve Them Healthy Options
You can get your children to eat healthy snacks without pressure by serving them healthy foods alongside the junk foods that they want. You can start by serving one healthy food in just a small amount and let your children know that they do not have to eat it. If ever they freak out about this, you can take baby steps backward.
You can also serve them snacks using a divided plate or place the healthy snacks in a small bowl next to their plate until they can tolerate it. Then take small steps back to get the food on their plate. But keep in mind that doing this may take a few weeks of snacking, therefore, lots of patience is needed.
4. Buy Less Junk Foods for Snack
If you notice that your children are making progress with eating healthy snacks, then you can try to lessen the junk food that you buy for them. Well, if junk foods are not in the house, it isn’t there to eat. However, you need to be careful if your children do not eat anything else but junk food because they need to eat something. You need to serve them at least one food that you know they will eat.
You can also try buying healthier junk foods for their snack. Try to avoid buying those with food dyes and too many preservatives by reading the back of the package. Aside from that, you can also try to make your own healthy versions of the junk food snacks that they love.
5. Prepare a Healthy Snack Together
You should not expect your children to eat healthy food in an instant, but you can get them involved in rinsing the vegetables or if they are old enough, they can help in chopping up some foods. You need to make the preparation fun for them to be encouraged to help you. This way, they will have interaction with healthy foods which is a wonderful opportunity for them in the long run.
6. Avoid Endless Snacking
For children, it’s easy to eat junk foods all day because these foods contain a lot of MSG that can make them crave for more. Most parents just let their children eat whatever they want when they are not eating well because at least they are eating something. However, doing that may cause more harm than good to your kids. To get them to eat healthier foods, you can set up a schedule for their snack time to create an appetite cycle. This will actually make them hungry when they sit down to eat, hence, eating the healthy snacks you prepared.
7. Try Planting a Garden
Children are usually interested in foods that they’ve watched grow in a way that is otherwise had to replicate. Therefore, planting a garden at home can also be an effective way to get your children to eat healthy snacks. You can plant fruits and vegetables in pots on your patio or porch and let your children help in taking care of them. Then, once the plants bear fruits, you can show your children how to use those ingredients in preparing delicious and healthy snacks.
Healthy Snacks for Your Children
Now that you have an idea on how to get your children to eat healthy snacks, we are also going to share with you some of the delicious and healthy snacks we found that you can serve to your kids.
1. Whole Grain Mini Pizza
Pizza does not belong to the healthy snack category, but you can make it a healthy snack for your kids by turning it into whole-grain. You can use a whole-grain English muffin as the dough then top it with low-sugar tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and some sliced veggies. Cook it in the oven and serve. You can also ask your kids to help in choosing toppings and assembling the mini pizzas. Aside from that, you can also try making a Pita Pizza by following this recipe that we found here.
2. Baked Sweet Potato Fries
If your kids love eating French fries, then they might also love baked sweet potato fries which is a healthier version that is easy to make as well. These fries are healthier because aside from using sweet potato, they are also baked and not cooked in oil. This makes the snack crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. You can add cinnamon, maple syrup, or sea salt to add taste to this snack.
3. Baked Apple Chips
This is a satisfying and crunchy snack that is sweet and simple. It is also very healthy because apples are high in fiber. It is very easy to make as well and you just need apples. Toss them in cinnamon or sprinkle some nutmeg and layer the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them to turn into chips. You can check the whole recipe here.
If your kids love ice cream, you can skip the ice cream at the store and instead, make your own at home. You can create healthy ice cream or popsicles using healthy ingredients such as fresh fruits, Greek yogurt, and natural sweeteners like honey. You can have your kids help you in choosing the ingredients and pouring the mixture into popsicle molds. You can try making lemonade popsicles by following the recipe here.
5. String Cheese
Most children find it difficult to get all the calcium they need to have sturdy bones. Therefore, having some string cheese for their snack can help them. It is a fun, delicious, and healthy snack that your kids will definitely love. In fact, each piece of string cheese can have 15 percent of the daily calcium needed by children.
It is indeed frustrating for parents if their children won’t eat anything but junk food and this can make them worry as well. We hope the tips and snacks recommendations we shared will be able to help you with getting your children to eat healthy snacks. If you are looking for other healthier snacks, you can also check out our post on 20 Organic and Healthy Snack Ideas for more options.