How do I get my kid to be a good eater?

This is the single most common question I receive from parents!  It’s an important one, and it contributed to the mission behind HealthBarn USA and my new book, Appetite for Life:  The Thumbs-Up, No-Yucks Guide to Get Your Kid to be a Great Eater.  The answer is not just a quick one-liner; there are many factors that go into helping kids become better eaters.  And your best bet is truly to read Appetite for Life!  This very question inspired me to write the book.  Until your copy arrives, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Beyond the broccoli.  Helping kids to be great eaters isn’t just about getting them to eat broccoli.  It’s about connecting them with natural, fresh food and educating them as to why it’s important (and delicious!) to eat these foods for their bodies and the planet.  Here are two of my top tips that really have an impact:
  • Kids love plants and taking care of them.  I ask them if they would feed a tree donuts and they say no, because the tree would get sick.  Then I ask if they would give the tree soda to drink and they say, no way, because the tree would die.  So, then I ask, if you would not feed the tree these foods because you would make it sick, why would you feed your body these foods?  Wouldn’t the same thing be likely to happen?
  • Kids are crazy for composting!  Composting is a favorite activity at HealthBarn USA.  When we are down in the garden around the compost pile, I ask the kids what types of food we can compost to make healthy soil for our plants.  They will say fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, tea bags and coffee grinds.  I ask them if they can compost fruit roll-ups or Doritos, and they say, no way, it won’t compost and then it would be junk compost.
  • Don’t just eat healthy; live healthy!  In Appetite for Life, I talk a lot about the Seven Healthy Habits: eat fruits and veggies, eat breakfast, exercise, get a good a night sleep, family meals, brush & floss teeth, and recycle.  These habits help make health and nutrition a part of kids’ daily routine.  For example, many kids who aren’t great eaters, also don’t get a good night’s sleep, so then they load up on carbohydrates to give them the energy to stay awake.  So many times, if you fix the sleep problem, the food situation gets better, too!  Taken together, these are the key practices that will help get your family on the path toward a healthy lifestyle—and, of course, turn your kids into better eaters!

– Stacey Antine, MS RD, author, Appetite for Life and founder, HealthBarn USA

What puzzles you about keeping your family healthy?  Tell us what’s on your mind by emailing [email protected].  Stacey will answer those questions here weekly.

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