Everybody knows how hard it is to get fussy kids to eat fruit and vegetables. Eating healthy is essential for their growth, and it sets the pattern for how they will eat for the rest of their lives. It’s a hard sell though, some days it is hard enough to get them to eat at all!
What kids eat for meals and snacks determines their lifelong habits. The options they are given impact them while they are young and healthy children grow into healthy adults.
Sadly, though just over a third of kids between 2 and 17 meet the guidelines for dietary fiber, found in fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Eating clean foods containing natural fiber helps prevent disease and illness later in life.
A significant part of any clean eating plan, including one for children should include plant based raw foods. Heating food can destroy important nutrients in food, I am not saying that children should be fed a completely raw food diet but increasing the amount of live food can set them on a path to good health. Eating more fruit and vegetables will improve concentration and productivity in school and a healthy body means a healthy mind. While all this seems like common sense it is so much harder to implement.
Children and the Food Industry
Understanding how the marketing departments of the food industry are targeting children makes it vital for parents to get involved in nutritional education and preventative medicine for their children. With growing numbers in childhood obesity, food allergies, eating disorders, and learning and social issues we have the first generation that is not expected to have a longer lifespan than their parents.
Children go through constant change and learn in different ways they are subject to peer pressure, bombarded by media advertising, and video games and convenience foods go hand in hand. On the other hand parents have more access to information and support to lead their children to a healthier lifestyle. The internet has provided an endless supply of tips, , health experts and support in a parents struggle to encourage healthy eating in children.
With a little ingenuity and patience, some days a whole lot of patience, getting your kids to eat clean may be easier than you think. How do you get them to eat clean raw foods? Get them involved. Bringing your kids to farmers markets and encouraging them to ask questions about where food comes from and how it is grown. It is a great learning experience for them and encourages an appreciation of food and its origins. They are more inclined to try something they recognize.
Grow a Garden
Grow some food of your own with your kids. Whether it is a fruit tree in the backyard, or a small vegetable patch or even a few small herb pots on your window sill it gives them the opportunity to see firsthand how things grow and to take part in the cycle. It will also teach them about sustainable growing practices, working with food and how to take care of nature.
Bring Kids in the Kitchen
Encourage your kids in the kitchen. Convenience foods are quickly making cooking something of a lost art, but getting together in the kitchen will help them appreciate making their own meals. Getting them involved in the whole cooking process will allow not only a sense of accomplishment but they are invested in trying what they made.
Color, color and some more color. Kids love some color, bright colors attract their attention and a wide variety of color in your diet is full of nutrients. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables provide a wide variety of activities you can do with your kids, eating all the food of their favorite colors.
Encourage playing with food especially with small children, as long as they are eating healthy food it really makes no difference if they want to make faces with it first. One of the best ways to get children to eat what is good for them is to hide it. That’s right hide it! Smoothies, homemade fruit popsicles, fake ice cream or mashed potatoes…you name it. You can hide green vegetables, flax seeds, chia or hemp seeds as long as it is covered by a flavor they like you can hide anything.
Smoothies are something my children love and have been eating since they were very small. I have been hiding spinach, kale as well as chia and hemp seeds, using blueberries to cover up the taste and they devoured it never knowing it was there. I have done the same thing with the same ingredients turning the smoothie mixture into fruit popsicles. Getting molds in unusual shapes also makes them even quicker to eat them. Adding a little more ice or frozen fruit can give it the same consistency as ice cream another big hit.
The last trick I have used to encourage clean eating is toothpicks. My kids would eat anything attached to the end of a toothpick. It made them feel grown up and gave them the opportunity to play with food and you can use a mixture of raw fruit and vegetables and you can add a homemade dip of some kind to go with it, some hummus, raw peanut butter or almond butter. It’s messy but fun.
In the end you want them to enjoy healthy clean eating, experiment with what works and they can also learn good habits and an appreciation for high quality clean eating.