9 Tips for Creating Healthy Eating Habits for Kids

Teaching children about making healthy food choices can be difficult, but it’s one of the most important steps you can take to ensure the health and well being of your child. If you haven’t learned about making healthy choices yourself, it’s even more difficult to steer your little ones in the right direction. Unhealthy eating, combined with a sedentary lifestyle and lots of screen time, can add up to extra pounds, little energy and lower immunity. Here are a few ideas for making healthy eating changes at home for both you and your kids.

Keep healthy food on hand

The most obvious first step is to not keep a lot of junk food around the house. Children will eat what’s readily available. So will Mom and Dad when they’re hungry. Keep fruit in a bowl on the counter, not buried in the fridge, and a basket of healthy snacks in the pantry so you can grab and go.

Don’t label foods as “good” or “bad”

Instead, tie foods to the things your child cares about, such as sports or appearance. Take the time to teach your child which foods are nutritious and which ones should be limited. Tell him things he can relate to and that will grab his attention. For example, “Drinking milk is good for your bones. Super man must have strong bones to be able to fly that fast!” He will probably care more about that than the actual health benefits.

Don’t nag about unhealthy choices

Instead of nagging, try to redirect the choices. You might try roasting potato sticks in the oven (tossed in just a bit of olive oil) instead of buying french fries. Or, if your child wants candy, you might make fresh strawberries dipped in a little chocolate sauce.

Don’t use food as a reward

Instead, reward your children with something physical and fun, like a trip to the park or a quick game of catch.

Sit down to family dinners

Research shows that children who eat dinners at the table with their parents have better nutrition and are less likely to get in serious trouble as teenagers. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting, enhances appetite and provides a perfect opportunity for your children to share what’s on their minds. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school.

Prepare plates in the kitchen

Instead of serving meals family-style at the table, prep plates in the kitchen and leave the serving bowls there. You can put healthy portions of each item on everyone’s dinner plate, and your children will learn to recognize correct portion sizes. It also takes an extra step to walk to the kitchen for seconds, so you won’t get in the habit of mindlessly spooning up extra helpings at the table.

Be a role model

The most important thing you can do to help get your child to choose healthy foods is to eat them yourself. Kids are more likely to do what you do than what you say. If you are snacking on a bag of potato chips, don’t expect them to be munching on an apple.

Cook more meals at home

Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for kids about the importance of food. Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar and salt. Save dining out for special occasions. Make visiting fast food restaurants an occasional thing, not a habit.

Get kids involved

Children enjoy helping to grocery shop, selecting what goes in their lunch box and preparing dinner. It’s also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and (for older children) how to read food labels. Taking kids to the farmer’s market or helping them plant their own veggie garden in the yard also goes a long way in encouraging them to eat their veggies.

What are your best tips for encouraging healthy eating in your home? Got any tips for healthy eating on the go? Please share them in the comments below.

“We’ve got to quit fighting for the parking space right in front of the door, quit taking the elevator or escalator and walk up the stairs. Let’s get back to the basics — family meals, healthy breakfasts — simple stuff like that.” ~ Dr. Carolyn Ashworth, pediatrician

Guest Post: Should I Blend or Should I Juice?

Should I Blend or Should I Juice?

Renee BaudeThis is a guest post from Renee Baude. Renee is changing the food-conscious world by combining plant-based nutrition and compassionate cooking to create amazing kid-friendly meals.  Her focus is to eat and live with L.O.V.E. — local, organic, veggies, everyday.  For daily inspiration check out her Instagram at http://instagram.com/reneebaude or the Renee’s Kitchen website at http://reneebaude.com.

Do you remember that song “should I stay or should I go…” I changed the words a bit, “should I juice or should I blend…” And should I do either?

Honestly, I couldn’t see the big deal of either juicing or singing the praises of a green smoothie. I mean really, what’s the big deal? In my mind (that’s a huge qualifier by the way!) those younger women, I would almost call them girls, drinking a green smoothie and projecting an image of freedom, thinness and all the time in the world — that wasn’t my life. My life is lock step breakfast, lunch, dinner, laundry that never ends. A jam-packed schedule of school, sports, music lessons, speech therapy, music therapy — a green smoothie was not going to cut it. I needed coffee! Lots and lots of coffee!

What changed? Target! I was standing in Target going over my list, and I looked up to see the Ninja staring back at me. ON CLEARANCE! It was done! I brought “the Ninja” home and haven’t looked back. I let the kids take the lead making all kinds of fruit smoothies in the craziest concoctions. Then I tried a kale smoothie — I hated it. I didn’t even like kale cooked. Why would I like it raw?

Experimentation, flexibility and small batches are key to finding a recipe you love. After much fiddling and fussing I found my perfect green smoothie. I could drink it everyday!

Juicing Vs. Blending

Juicing
  1. Buy a juicer and loads and loads of fruit and veggies.
  2. Wash the fruit and veggies.
  3. Push them throughout the chute of the juicer that spins out the pulp in one direction and shoots out the juice in the other direction.
  4. This leaves a very concentrated juice full of micro-nutrients that you might not be able to absorb by just eating the fruit or vegetable.
  5. Juicing requires a lot more fruit than blending requires.
Blending
  1. Buy a blender specifically for blending. It is called a smoothie not a chunky! I love my Ninja, but there are tons of different products that do the same thing.
  2. Whole foods are used so you benefit from the fiber and phytonutrients remaining in the drink. With juicing you lose that.
  3. The combinations are only limited by your imagination.

Steps to the perfect green smoothie

  1. Pick your greens. Kale, spinach, swiss chard, Zen Blend or baby blends. The possibilities are endless. In this video, I show you some different types of kale and how to prep for meals, blending or juicing. Remember when I said I hated kale? I knew how good it was for me with tons and tons of important vitamins and mineral, but I just didn’t like it. So I started small. I added one leaf at a time to my smoothie until I was able to develop a taste for it. If you are like me and don’t like kale, buy organic, try different kinds of kale and be mindful of what you like and don’t like.
  2. Pick your liquid: water (for weight loss), ice cubes if you will be drinking it later (I often use my green smoothie as my to-go breakfast on busy mornings), tea (for added energy if it is a yerba matte), coconut water, juice (from juicing or I use Minute Maid Kids OJ blend for extra vitamins).
  3. Pick a fruit/vegetable for flavor, texture, or sweetness. Bananas, kiwi, cucumber, celery, grapes, frozen organic fruit, blueberries, mango, pineapple, avocado, apples or strawberries. I buy the biggest bag of frozen organic fruit I can find so it is more economical. I often mix frozen with fresh to make a frozen delight!
  4. Add some extras: walnuts, sunflower seeds, figs, chai seeds, flax seed, almonds. My kids love the added texture of nuts and seeds, but I don’t.

What works for me?

I love both juicing and blending. I wake up each morning and have my Ninja Powers Green Smoothie! A handful of greens, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 banana and then I add ice. I usually do not drink my smoothie first thing in the morning. I get up a few hours before anyone else, blending would be a little obnoxious at 4 am! I make my smoothie when I’m making lunches, snacks and breakfast for the crew and depending on the schedule, I put it in a to-go glass.

Sometimes I get really bad headaches. When that happens, I juice broccoli and oranges with a lemon and within an hour my headache is gone! I know that sounded so disgusting to me when it was suggested to me, but it totally works. This Facebook page is wonderful for answering all of my juicing questions — it’s a great resource! My favorite juice is carrots, lemon, 2 apples, ginger and love — knowing that my body will love getting this juice! I also juice a blend of sweet potatoes, apple, a few carrots and then add some cinnamon — perfect for times when I need to feel a little more grounded as life spins out of control.

Cooking with juice?

The secret to some of my soups is having a base made from juicing. Seriously! My potato soup has a amazing blend of onions and celery. My butternut squash soup has carrots, apples, celery, onions and sometimes a sweet potato. The depth of flavor is truly amazing. I definitely recommend trying it.

Incorporating juicing and blending into your culinary repertoire is a super fun way to add L.O.V.E. into your meals — local.organic.veggies.everyday.