Getting children–especially toddlers–to eat healthy food can feel like pulling teeth. Even so, it’s a common plight for parents. According to recent studies, potatoes–primarily in french-fry form–are the most common vegetable eaten by toddlers. It makes sense; 42% of kids between 15 months and two years eat fast food each day.
If you want to encourage your toddler to eat healthy foods, here are four ways to try:
1. Have a plan.
As with any conquest, it’s best to have a battle plan. Approaching mealtime with intention will go a long way towards getting your toddler to eat or try healthier foods. Try planning out two or three days of meals at a time, including a balanced diet for each day. Shoot to have a protein, whole-grain carbohydrate, and one fruit or vegetable on the plate at mealtime.
And don’t skimp on the snacks. Children need to eat every three to four hours. This includes three meals, two snacks, and plenty of fluids. Having a plan will give you the freedom to include certain food groups at certain times during the day and introduce new items from time to time.
2. Introduce new foods slowly.
Speaking of introducing new food items, make sure that new things are introduced slowly. Toddlers are naturally averse to new foods. When you want to introduce your toddler to something new, start small. Take broccoli for instance. Include one floret at mealtime, call it by a cute nickname, and see what happens. If new foods don’t catch on, try offering condiments with vegetables. Introducing foods slowly allows your toddler time to adjust and get comfortable with certain items without being overwhelmed.
3. Make mornings count.
Breakfast has been called “the most important meal of the day.” When it comes to getting a jumpstart on daily nutrition for your toddler, it just might be true. Most families don’t get enough fiber on a daily basis, so work some in during the first meal of the day. High-fiber cereals are a great way to make sure that each day starts off on the right foot. You can also go the extra mile and cook up whole-grain pancakes or waffles.
4. Model a healthy relationship with food.
Like many other things, when it comes to nutrition we learn to imitate our parents. Whether you realize it or not, your toddler will learn to interact with and approach food in a similar manner as you. By modeling a healthy relationship with food you’ll encourage your toddler to do the same.
If you struggle with eating healthy foods yourself, then Fit Five Meals can help! With fresh food that fits your life, Fit Five Meals will help you model a healthy relationship with food while ensuring you get all the nutrients to operate at your best.