How to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits in Children

Raising kids can be stressful, but also, one of the most rewarding journeys you will embark on. Parents want to make sure their kids are as happy and healthy as can be. Part of ensuring that your child is healthy is instilling healthy eating habits in them from a young age.

However, this is easier said than done! Especially if you are dealing with a picky eater. Finding creative ways to encourage healthy eating habits with your kids will help them pick better food choices as they get older and have more agency to choose food themselves.

Creative Ways to Encourage Kids to Eat Healthily
Encouraging your kids to eat healthily might take some innovative approaches. Thankfully, there are many kid-friendly strategies you can take to encourage better eating habits with your kids at home.

Offer a Wide Variety of Foods at Each Meal
At each meal, each food group should be represented on a child’s plate. This means a serving of veggies, fruit, protein, and starch should be available for each meal. Even if a child doesn’t like a food the first time they try it, you should continue to offer it from time to time on their plate. There is research that shows a child may need to try a new food 8-15 times before they grow a liking to it!

Avoid Forcing Meal Consumption
Many parents follow a philosophy that involves prohibiting a child to get up from the dinner table or move on to their next task until they have cleared their dinner plate. Though this is usually done with good intentions, it can cause children to eat even after they are full, resulting in them eating more food than they naturally need. This can cause issues with overeating and weight later in life.

A better approach is to involve the child in the process of food plating. Ask them how much of each food they think they can eat, and serve their portions based on their assessment of their own hunger. Eventually, this will teach children portion control and intuitive eating habits.

Avoid Forbidden Foods
Making certain foods, such as candy or cookies, completely off-limits in your home may not be a good idea. This might make children over-consume these foods when they are offered in an outside setting, like in a classroom or at a friend’s house.

Instead, teach them these foods are OK to eat in small, healthy portions as a special treat.

Taking a mindful and creative approach to healthy habits with your children will go a long way. Generally, when it comes to food, avoid forcing children to do anything, and instead encourage and model the healthy eating habits you’d like to see.

Taking the time to focus on healthy eating habits as a child will benefit them for the rest of their lives!

Healthy Eating for Kids – Cleveland Clinic
Healthy Eating for Kids: Nutrients, Eating Habits, and Picky Eaters (