Many of us make commitments to ourselves to eat healthier in some aspect. Unfortunately, it may not seem so straightforward to convince our kids to do the same. When kids rebel against healthy options it may feel like it’d just be easier to give up and cook the chicken nuggets.

But stay the course! YOU are in control.

Bad eating habits are learned and often develop in childhood. We don’t tend to worry about our kids having heart attacks and developing adult-onset diabetes, but the diet they adopt as a child can set them up for these issues later in life. If you do the hard work now to instill healthy eating habits in your children, it may be the best gift you ever gave them.

Here are four great ways to get kids to eat healthier:

1. Be a role model. Get rid of the junk in the kitchen and put the healthy snacks within arm’s reach. Get caught snacking on fresh fruits and veggies like raspberries, cucumbers, carrots and hummus – and the kids will follow suit. You can’t expect kids to eat healthy if you’re not.

2. Teach the value in good nutrition. Protein in their turkey sandwich builds muscle and strength to swim, play soccer and dance.  Calcium in milk and yogurt builds strong bones. Eating a healthy breakfast every day helps maintain focus on learning at school. Let them know it!

3. Give kids a say in meal planning. Let the kids have a vote for meals and snacks one day of the week. Offer a few (not too many) healthy meal options and allow them to choose the veggie or main course. Kids are much more likely to develop interest in the meal if they’re involved in the planning or preparation of it.

4. Be persistent. It can take a lot of tries and plenty of patience to get kids to try new foods. It took us several months of serving salmon for dinner every week before my son would eat it. But we stayed the course and never offered an alternative. And then it started, one bite, two bites, …. and now we need to buy a whole extra 1/4 lb salmon every week, just for him!

Bottom Line: If kids have access to healthy foods and parents and teachers model healthy eating behaviors, kids will snack on healthy options. Junk foods are an acquired taste, not an addiction. When junk food snacks are replaced with healthy choices, the perceived “addiction” to sugar and saturated fat magically disappears!

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