How to Get Kids to Choose Healthy Snacks

How to Get Kids to Choose Healthy Snacks

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As summer fast approaches, parents everywhere are making plans for what to do with their kids once the school year ends. One question that often crops up is how to get kids eating healthy during the summer.

It’s especially hard when the onus is on them to choose whether or not to eat healthy when you’re not home or are otherwise occupied. Luckily, there are things you can do as their parent to encourage healthy eating—and, hopefully, get them to choose healthy snacks more often than not.  

And by making these changes now, while your child is home for the summer rather than eating school-provided foods, you set them up to make better choices once the school year comes back around.

So how do you encourage good decisions even when you’re not right there? This guide will give you helpful tips and tricks to getting your kids to choose healthy snacks.

Get Them Involved

When it comes to healthy eating, the more you can get your kids involved in the process, the better. Prioritizing outdoor activities in your family can make your kids feel more comfortable with everything nature has to offer.

Consider starting a small vegetable garden with your kids, letting them pick out which veggies to grow over the course of the summer. You can be sure that, after working on them for months, when those veggies pop up, your kids will be excited to eat them.

Other ways to get them involved include bringing them blueberry scraping or strawberry picking. The act of picking fresh fruit with their own two hands can make them more excited to eat it later on.

You can also bring them with you when you shop at the farmers markets and let them help you select produce to bring home.

The more you get your kids involved in the process of sourcing and bringing home foods, the more likely they are to have an interest in those foods—and, therefore, the more likely they are to choose to eat those foods later on.

Make Healthy Snacks Convenient

Think about when you head into the kitchen for a snack. If you’re like a lot of people, you open the fridge, stare at the vegetables that need to be chopped, and then reach for something you don’t have to work to enjoy.

Kids are no different. When they’re looking for a snack, they’re much more likely to reach for something convenient than work for something. So, if you want your kids to choose healthy snacks, the first thing you should do is make healthy snacks convenient.

So, what does that look like? At the most basic level, of course, it means having healthy snacks available in your home. You can’t expect kids to choose healthy foods if there aren’t any healthy foods in your house.

More than that, however, you need to make those healthy snacks easy for your kids to grab. This means that you should keep your healthy snacks at eye level and up front in both your fridge and your pantry, tucking less healthy foods in the back or on shelves below eye level.

This silently encourages healthy eating without forbidding the junk entirely.

To make healthy snacking extra easy, cut up veggies ahead of time and pre-portion things like grapes so that grabbing a serving of fruits or vegetables is just as easy as grabbing a packet of fruit snacks.

Having a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter can also make it easy for that to be the first thing kids see.

Offer Safe Variety

It’s normal to want to expose your kids to new foods on a regular basis. But it’s also important to remember that kids are programmed to not trust new foods. To reconcile your need to serve them a variety with their need to eat the same four foods all the time, serve new foods in small amounts alongside “safe” foods that you know they’ll eat.

Meanwhile, avoid pressuring them to eat new foods. For kids, it can take multiple exposures to a new food before they’ll eat it.

Pressuring them or bribing them to eat new foods often backfires: by showing them that you think it’s a big deal that they eat a portion of new food, it only reaffirms their beliefs that there’s something scary about that food. Instead, offer the food as an option.

Chances are, if you keep offering it—and take the pressure off—they’ll eventually get curious enough to try it out.

Give Choices

Alongside offering safe variety, giving your kids choices when you can helps them feel more in control—and makes them more likely to choose well. Giving choices can be as simple as asking kids if they’d prefer peas or broccoli in the casserole you’re making for dinner or letting them pick a recipe to help you cook.

Letting kids help you in the kitchen is a great way to expose them to new foods while letting them feel like they have a say in what they eat at night.

Another way to give choices is to put kids in control of snack time. For example, this great video on a snack system lets kids choose their snacks throughout the day while ensuring they choose mostly healthy snacks and don’t overindulge.

This takes the pressure off of both you and them. And, by feeling in control of what they eat and when they eat it, kids are less likely to binge on junk food when they’re at a friend’s house or at camp. Our superfood pantry has some great snack options that you can make available to your kids.

Avoid Diet Talk

When it comes to having kids, it’s important to remember that little pictures have big ears. Even if you’re not encouraging them to diet, talking about going on a new diet yourself in front of them vilifies certain foods and can give kids a misconception about the purpose of healthy eating.

It can also make them self-conscious about their bodies and kill their self-esteem.

Instead of talking about a diet, change habits by changing what’s available in your house. You don’t have to buy junk food, so if you don’t want to eat chips—or you don’t want your kids choosing chips—just stop buying them.

You can also adjust the conversation so that instead of talking about dieting or losing weight, you’re talking about nutrition, fueling your body, and feeling good. These are much healthier conversations to have with and in front of your children, and will give them a healthier relationship with the foods they eat.   

Change Perceptions

You can change the perception of food in your household by changing how you serve it and how you talk about it.

For example, you can add healthy foods into longtime favorites, shredding carrots and mixing it into spaghetti sauce, for example, or making zucchini cookies. This makes it so that even the pickiest eaters in your family are getting good nutrients on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, serve dessert in your home, but instead of dessert equating to a huge bowl of ice cream, have it equate to fruit kabobs or a bowl of blueberries in milk.

Serving healthy but delicious snacks after dinner can create a family culture of healthy eating while also preventing kids from skipping dinner because they know they’ll get something better in a couple of hours.

Wrapping Up

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a battle in your household. When it comes to healthy eating, leading by example and educating kids on the benefits of good nutrition can go a long way to raising healthy eaters.

The less that you make a big deal out of food, and the more you just make it how your household eats, the easier it is to get kids on board.


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