3 Ways to Create Healthy Food Habits With Your Kids

Kids can be the pickiest of eaters, and at times you might find yourself giving up and giving in, letting them have mac and cheese – yet again – for dinner tonight. About 20% of children are picky eaters. While most grow out of it, it’s important to instill healthy habits in your little ones now, so they can grow up to make healthy, nutritious choices as adults and work on improving their health throughout their lives

So, how can you create healthy food habits with your kids now?

Some experts make it sound like a complicated task. But, you don’t have to know much about GMOs, preservatives, or things like deuterium in your child’s food to help them create smart eating habits.

Keep these three tips in mind to encourage healthy eating that you and your child can work on together.

Child at a sink

1. Know That You’re In Charge

Understand that you control the supply of food that enters your house. If you don’t buy something for your child, they won’t eat it. Even if they might be upset in the store about not getting their sugary cereal or candy bar, you’re ultimately in control.

Yes, this might cause some initial arguments, but if you stick to being conscious about the foods you buy and your child recognizes that, they will start to accept the idea of healthy eating more easily. Make it clear that your child can either choose to eat what you’re providing, or whether they want to eat at all. It won’t take long for them to choose the nutritious items over an empty stomach.

2. Drinks Always Count

Even if you’re sticking to mostly healthy foods in the house, you can totally derail your child’s nutrition with sugary drinks like sodas, sweetened juices, and sports drinks.

Not only are these drink options loaded with calories and sugar, but they are often “empty” calories, providing absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. If your child likes the carbonation of sodas, switch to sparkling water or flavored waters. Or, offer them natural fruit juices that are slightly diluted with water.

3. Be a Role Model

You might not think your child looks up to you all the time, but they do. Children are always watching what their parents do. So, be sure to set a good example when it comes to your own eating habits. 

Don’t skip meals, choose healthier options for yourself, and make nutrition an important part of your life. If your child sees that you’re enjoying nutritious, healthy food, they’ll be more likely to give it a try for themselves.

Another idea is to get your child in the kitchen with you. Kids are often more likely to eat something they’ve cooked or helped with. So, give them safe kitchen tasks to perform, such as tossing vegetables in a salad or adding seasonings to lean proteins.

Is it okay to treat your child (and yourself) to a less-than-healthy treat once in a while? Absolutely. But, if you’re trying to combat the nutritional issues of a picky eater, these three simple tips can make a big difference, and can completely change the way your child’s diet looks on a daily basis. 


  • heather

    This is a great post and I think all parents should read this one. I had a garden of my own as a child and I think that helped me love veggies so much as an adult.

  • Kate Sarsfield

    My sister still won’t eat anything green and she’s almost 60! At Christmas she’s made to eat a spoonful of peas & 3 brussel sprouts by Mum and Dad (or was, I mean).

  • Crystal K

    I definitely agree with having kids help in the kitchen. And I let my kids munch on ingredients while we cook. Sometimes they eat things I swear they would never try if I put them on their plates. Just today they were eating raw tofu while helping me cook!

  • Tamra Phelps

    I don’t mind letting kids have cereal (as long as it’s not really sugary) or the occasional candy bar, but they should have to eat the ‘good for you’ stuff during meals, lol. But having said that, if they try something and don’t like it, I don’t think they should be forced to eat it. But they have to try it, I think. I don’t eat things that I don’t like, so I’m not going to force a kid to eat it. It’s only fair. Every kid will put up a fight when they want, like, jello for every meal, lol. You’re right. You have to be in charge of the food.

    • Connie: The Head Peanut

      True, but then with Alice my daughter went a WHOLE different route and now she has a 9 year old that refuses to try new things and basically lives on Mac-n-cheese and chicken nuggets. It’s really frustrating. But, then it’s not my monkey, not my circus. I don’t interfere (I just bite my tongue a LOT!)

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