Getting Your Kid to Eat Healthy

Preparing nourishing children’s meals is one of the joys of being a father. However, feeding a toddler can feel like a full-time job. Saying they’re “highly selective” can be an understatement. It’s not easy keeping a little picky eater hale and hearty. Here are some tips to help your young one develop a taste for new, healthy foods.

Show How Food Works
Showing what’s going on behind the scenes can pique your child’s interest in various fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, herbs and spices.

Bring your little one to a local farmer’s market to expose them to a wide selection of produce. Book an in-person or virtual farm tour to give them a primer on where eggs, corn, beans, and berries come from.

It’s even better if you grow crops in your garden. Introduce agriculture to your child in your backyard and help them gain an appreciation for food.

Create the Illusion of Choice
Picky eating can be your toddler’s way of demonstrating independence. Although you must maintain control over what’s on your child’s plate, you shouldn’t force anything down.

Battling over food is counterproductive when raising an adventurous eater. It can lead to tantrums and crying, causing your kid to feel unwell. You don’t want them to associate this negative experience with new foods.

Instead, let them select what to eat based on the options you provide. This technique can demonstrate your confidence in their decision-making abilities and trick them into thinking they control the situation.

For example, asking your child to choose between some boiled lobster or steamed fish for lunch ensures they consume seafood and get abundant essential nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and B-complex vitamins, whichever direction they take. Allowing them to make their plate is the cherry on top.

Promote Them to Kitchen Helper
Children are more likely to eat something when emotionally invested. Make your child an assistant chef to entice them to eat and finish what they help prepare. Entrust them with one or two simple tasks to keep them busy and work up an appetite.

Leverage Food Familiarity
Eating is an incredibly sensory experience for children. They have more taste buds than adults and can develop aversions toward strange flavors, smells and textures. Combining novel items with those your kid is familiar with is a neat workaround.

Be a Good Role Model

Leading by example matters. Environmental factors shape your child’s behaviors — and one of them is you.

Dine with your kid and eat the same stuff you want them to have. They’ll take their cue from your eating habits, so it’s vital to regularly fill your plate with nutritious foods to encourage them to have a healthy diet.

Include Healthy Eating in Daily Routine
Repetition forms habits. Make it a mission to serve your child a colorful plate daily. Diverse natural food colors represent nutritional range, so aim to prepare meals with varying shades of fresh produce. Getting your kid used to seeing a polychromatic plate makes it easy to feed them superfoods of every hue.

Turn Picky Eating Into Healthy Eating
While your child decides what they like and dislike, you can influence their palate with these tips. You’ll develop some tricks from your experience, so share your best practices with other dads!

Jack Shaw is the senior lifestyle writer at Modded with and a single father with a special interest in navigating the ins and outs of being a parent. As fathers, the work we put in isn’t always recognized, but it’s absolutely essential to the health and well-being of our children. You can find more of Jack’s work in publications like Tiny Buddha, Daddy’s Digest, and more.