Fruit is a healthier snack for kids than a candy bar.
If you want your kids to grow up eating their veggies, establish healthy eating patterns while they're young. Busy lives sometimes necessitate a trip to the fast-food drive-through; sitting down regularly to a nutritious dinner, however, is a golden opportunity to teach your preschoolers about the virtues of spinach and brown rice. While it's not likely your youngster will prefer salad to chicken nuggets, you want to be able to serve up both without getting push-back from a picky preschooler.
1Explain to preschoolers why good food is important. For example, tell young children that food is what gives them energy to play and learn, and that eating well will help them to be big and strong. Make this lesson fun and easy to understand. If your preschooler is into cars, for instance, liken eating nutritious food to gassing up a car -- the better fuel you use, the better the car runs.
2Tell children about the different categories of food, such as vegetables, dairy and protein. Explain what foods go into what category and ask him to think of foods he eats that fit each one. You can even make a bit of a game out of this. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture's website ChooseMyPlate.gov provides recommended guidelines for filling up a dinner plate. When sitting down to meals, for instance, half of your plate should be made up of vegetables. Challenge your child to meet that goal, and when he willingly spoons a big helping of Brussels sprouts or green beans onto his plate and finishes it, make a big fuss and offer praise.
3Set a good example. As hard as it can be to pass up a slice of cake for dessert when eating out, order a fruit platter instead for the table to share. If your child sees you making healthy choices, it seems more natural to choose well herself. This also applies to other healthy lifestyle choices; staying fit and exercising sets the example for your child and tells her that these a good habits.
4Visit a local farm if possible. Seeing where their food comes from and the work it takes to grow and harvest can impress kids and give them ideas for new foods to try. If that's not possible, try a farmer's market or even the grocery store. Point out all the varieties or fruits and vegetables, explain different ways they can be used and prepared. Make the lesson fun and allow your preschooler to have some input into what healthy foods you buy.
5Invite kids to be a part of the food preparation. For example, once you've cut up the vegetables, allow children to "make" the salad by arranging it in the bowl, or let them add dry ingredients to a homemade pasta sauce. This may help kids be more anxious to try their creations.
- When introducing a new healthy food to your child, the United States Department of Agriculture suggests offering said food to your tot at the beginning of the meal, as she's more likely to be open to the new experience when hungry.