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10 Steps Toward Healthier Eating Habits for Kids

Updated: Mar 3

A little girl eating an apple outside

If you're reading this you likely have a picky eater in your home! Kids seem to be getting more and more selective with their eating habits these days. For us parents, we realize that there's got to be a balance between fostering our kids' independence to choose foods that they enjoy as well as ensuring that their choices come mainly from the healthy food variety.

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Here are 10 tips to support health eating habits for your child:

1. Start with workable changes for your family including shopping and eating routines.

Start where you are! It takes about 21 days to form a habit. Take small steps forward toward your family feeding goals. Each small change can empower you to keep going!

2. Set a good example, eating a variety of healthy foods each day.

Let your kids see you enjoying healthy foods and they will be more likely to go with the program. Children learn what they live.

3. Be aware of marketing strategies to get you to buy products.

Realize that product packaging and television commercials are designed by manufacturers to get you to purchase products. Get in the habit of reading labels, particularly when it comes to knowing what the individual ingredients are in packaged foods that you buy.

4. Work toward increasing whole foods and decreasing processed and refined foods.

Work to eliminate artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, excess sugar and other unnecessary additives when making food choices.

5. Make simple menu plans to prevent mealtime stress.

A little planning can limit our tendencies to choose quick yet less healthy options.

6. Teach children about healthy eating.

Involve them in shopping and preparing foods. Visit a vegetable farm. Plant foods in a garden or in planter boxes. Read books with kids like this one to help them learn about healthy foods.

7. Redefine snacks and treats.

Try to avoid using food as a reward and encourage healthy snacks.

8. Organize your kitchen so that healthy snack choices are readily available for children.

Make available only what you want them to eat.

9. Practice moderation when eating 'low nutrition' treats, keeping the family focus on working toward healthier eating.

Plan to generally follow the 80/20 plan. Make 80% of what goes into your family's bodies of the healthy variety, and 20% (or less) for less healthy options (i.e. fast food, treats, etc.).

10. Be watchful of food sensitivities. Keep a simple food journal to identify patterns.

Check with your health practitioner about nutritional concerns for your child.

A girl eating a healthy meal and giving a thumbs up

It's important to start where you are in terms of upping your healthy food game with the kids. Start by implementing even 1 or 2 of these tips and once that's become part of your family's expectation and regular routine, tackle some more.

Try to keep your eye on the prize and view healthy eating as an important part of the 'well-being puzzle'. As always, be sure to surround yourself with supportive and positive people. :)

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All blog content shared through HealthSmart! Kids is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as medical advice. Always talk with your qualified health care provider for managing your health care needs.

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