4 Tips for Getting Your Children to Eat Clean

If you have very small children, you are fortunate in that you have the opportunity to shape their food choices from a young age. Once children begin school, they are exposed to all sorts of different things, including foods, and not all of them are healthy. Thankfully, all is not lost. Even if you have older children, you can still improve their eating habits and food choices so that they can live a cleaner, more healthful lifestyle as adults.

In what follows, are tips to help your children learn to eat clean, no matter what age they are now.

Take them shopping with you – Teach your children to read food labels, and to decipher what they mean. For example, the first ingredient listed on a label is found in the most abundance in the food, followed in descending order by those found in lesser amounts. Another thing you can teach is the many names that are used to refer to sugar in a food product on the shelf – fructose, sucrose, dextrose, barley malt, rice syrup, and around fifty other names! Teach them how to read bread packages, and to know the difference in food quality they are getting (refined flour vs. whole grains).

Cook with them – Teaching your children to cook is one of the best lifestyle skills you can ever provide them. It makes them less likely to rely on fast food, and processed foods when they become adults. You can find a number of healthy recipes – even ones that include healthier desserts – online or in some very good recipe books. Teach them healthy substitutions. For example, in baking, you can substitute apple sauce, pureed bananas, cranberries, or dates for white sugar. In pancakes, there is no need to use white flour, which has little nutritional value. Instead, look for pancake recipes that use egg whites instead of flour, and provide an extra boost of protein.

Use dips – If you have trouble getting your children to eat vegetables or fruits, create dips that add flavor. For example, you can create healthy hummus or guacamole for dipping vegetables. You can create a healthy fruit dip by combining plain yogurt, lemon juice, and some fruit puree.

Keep healthy food options available – If you buy a head of cauliflower or other vegetables, be sure to prepare them and put them on a plate, so that you and your children are more likely to choose them over something less healthy and convenient like crackers, for example. In addition, it reduces the chances that the prepared veggies get eaten before they spoil.

Start slow – This is especially true if you are dealing with older children. If you decide to throw out all “bad” food, and make huge changes overnight, there is going to be a lot of resistance. Instead, it is better to try new recipes gradually, while slowly replacing your ingredients in your cupboards. For example, instead of purchasing sugary granola or breakfast bars, find a recipe that you can make from scratch that contains wholesome, natural ingredients. Instead of buying potato chips, learn how to make kale chips or sweet potato chips. Often, it is only the salt that we are craving, and these make more healthy options.

As you can see, it is possible to help teach your children clean eating habits that will stick with them for a lifetime. The four tips listed above are ways that you can get started.