Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2 Big Tips to Turn Your Kids into Healthy Foodies

Good, natural food should be celebrated and appreciated, and the habit should be passed down from one generation to the next.

You've probably seen it a million times - the message that "good eating habits start at home." Well, as the mom of a toddler, I'll be the first to say that that is so much easier said than done. Even if you give your kids the best baby food in world and they love veggies and grains at 11 months, that doesn't mean that they still will at 2 years old or 4 years old. According to my child's doctor, children's taste buds change all the time. It's best to simply prepare for it.

That said, here are some tips for turning your kids into foodies, like you. No matter the age, there are a few things you can do to set them on the right path.

1. Find good foods that play to your kids' specific tastes. I konw that my son has a pretty strong sweet tooth, primarily from all of the fruit that he eats. He's not going to eat a bunch of broccoli florets at this point in his life, no matter how creamy the dressing is or whether I wrap it in puff pastry.

So, I was happy to find that he liked euforia, because even though it's a cake, it's really a gourmet cake that is not as sweet as birthday cake. And because it's made from simple, whole ingredients, I was more than happy to give him some. It's better for him to develop a taste for whole foods now than to get used to the preservative addiction.

I know that my son likes sweets, and there are naturally sweet, whole foods available all over the place. I try to keep fresh fruit on hand and if I give him something extra, like whipped cream, I make sure to use fresh whipped cream that I make myself. I want him to see that it's okay to have things you like if they are natural, whole foods and that it's better to make them yourself, which leads to my next point.

  • Try: Homemade granola or granola bars using honey. You'll significantly cut the sugar found in store brands.
  • Also try: euforia. Seriously! Not only is this gourmet cake perfectly sized for little fingers but if your kids are like my son, they will love watching the layers disappear bite after bite, and you'll be happy they are enjoying a cake not made by Little Debbie.

2. Invite your kids to help make food with you. In my house, this is one of the best ways to get my son to try something new. If he "helps" me make it, he is more likely to try it. He can see each ingredient so the mystery is gone. Additionally, this simple step shows that food comes from somewhere other than a box or a restaurant. Showing your kids that they can make their own food will encourage them to do so in order to have foods that they like, and it's almost always the healthier choice. So if my son wants cupcakes, we can make them rather than buy them. And therefore we can control the sugar and fat and other things that go into them.

What ideas do you have for raising up a generation of foodies? What "foodie" foods do your kids eat that others might enjoy?

Image: Clare Bloomfield