Thursday, November 5, 2009

Encouraging Young Children to Eat Healthy Food

Parenting is always an exercise in creativity. Teaching healthy attitudes and eating habits is no exception. We just finished lunch where my 3 and 5 year olds ate - no kidding- asparagus broccoli soup, plain white tuna, raw spinach leaves, cheddar bunnies (organic snack!) and an organic apple. This is not unusual but does take some advance planning. This is what I wish I would've started out doing but we have grown into.

1. We only have healthy food in the house - with very little exception. We buy organic (it is cheaper in the end). I feel a burden lifted when I serve a meal and I know that I am serving my family LIFE-giving food rather than death or compromise.

2. We only serve one item at a time starting with a new item or one that I really want them to eat. Usually while I am still setting the table I put a few pieces of raw spinach on their plate. They always eat it because they are hungry. Portions are very small.

3. They cannot have more until they finish what they have. However, if they are not hungry at all they can be excused from the table. But if they are hungry later, they must eat what they did not finish. Sounds strict but it saves so much wasted food and encourages them to finish their healthy choices.

4. We serve almost 50% raw food at each meal - always something colorful!

5. We allow them to choose a new item from the produce section each week to try. Wow - this has been an adventure! This week it is raw cranberries - which we all ate! Yum. Takes getting used to but I am going to try some receipes. We also tried radishes with very good results. Amazing when it is their choice how much they will eat!

We are still learning and I'd love to hear from other moms about their ideas for encouraging healthy emotions toward eating as well as simply eating healthy foods. What have you tried?

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