We’ve all witnessed this scene. The table is finally set and remarks about the main dish start to pop up from tiny mouths.

Kids these days would choose take-out instead of a home cooked meal in a heartbeat.

With busy schedules and dealing with tantrums on a regular basis, it is just so much more convenient to get takeout foods rather than preparing a homemade meal but beware as this convenience will have negative effects on your child’s health.

Unhealthy eating habits can continue into adulthood and over the course of time may even develop into lifelong diseases.

According to the American Psychological Association, adapting to healthy habits during the formative years of childhood, is more likely to make your kid hold onto these habits throughout life.

A balanced, nutritious approach will not only improve their continued growth and physical development but will also provide energy, improve mental alertness, help them maintain a healthy weight and also contribute in preventing conditions like depression, anxiety and ADHD.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least five fruits and vegetables each day for children.

Although encouraging them to eat healthy isn’t always easy, the trick to changing their way of thinking lies in these simple methods.

Make Healthy Foods More Accessible

The first step to seeing any improvement is to control what food is easily available in your house.

Keep fresh fruits and nuts out for them to easily get to when snacking!

Stock up on food that they would enjoy eating. Make them realize that some of their favorite snacks are more nutritious than other options, then they won’t mind going for them.

Set A Good Example By Showing, Not Telling

It is important to tell your kids to eat healthy but just make sure you don’t overdo it rather display the behavior that you expect from them.

It could be as easy as choosing healthier options and skipping the fries and soda when you go out to eat.

Frequently eating healthy foods in front of them will guide them to better eating habits. Kids learn and adapt things better that they observe, instead of what is told to them. Be a good role model and practice what you preach.

Find Healthier Alternatives To Their Favorite Snacks

A significant way to change their mindset, is to give them food that fits your requirements and also happens to please their taste buds. Cooking a healthier version of pizza at home or recommending nuts, milkshakes and smoothies instead of chocolate, potato chips and soda will make them prefer those substitutes in the future.

Give Them Freedom To Choose On Their Own

It might be enticing to pile healthy food on your little one’s plate, but you may be doing more harm than good. Kids will truly learn to make healthier choices if they are given the flexibility to make decisions by themselves.

Forcing can create life-long reluctance to those healthy foods and can interfere with your child’s awareness of their own internal cues to hunger and fullness.

Letting your children take control of their own plate is a process to let them have their independence and yet make them interested in trying new foods. It’s through trial and error that they will pick up on why it’s necessary to eat healthy.

Make Meals Look Appealing

A foolproof technique that restaurants use to get people to eat their food is by making meals look inviting. If done same with the dishes at home, there’s a greater chance of kids eating those healthy meals. Add lots of colorful vegetables to show your kids how you don’t have to sacrifice flavor to be healthy and that organic ingredients can be used to make tasty meals.

A major key for getting little hands to grab for the right food is to present it as appetizing and appealing as you can. It will make them more willing to eat what you set out in front of them.

Get Them Involved In The Cooking Process

One way to get them to eat healthy is to include them in the cooking process. Just have them sit nearby to offer any assistance.

Kids will possibly try new foods if they had contribution in making it.

Ask them to assist you to measure ingredients, garnish cheese, toss a salad or roll out some pizza dough. You could even make them gather the ingredients for a meal or chop any vegetables if they’re old enough. This will get them familiar to seeing natural foods and also provide you with a chance to talk to them about every ingredients nutritional value.

Make Meal Time Special

Make your mealtimes special family moments in which the whole family sits down to eat and has a good time. Enjoy the flavors. Never let children eat while walking around.

A lot  of fun things can be done to make mealtime special. Consider dinner as a get together and assign your children a special task or maybe even let each child plan and help make dinner some days in a month. Have them set the table. Cloth napkins, real glasses and candles give a luxurious feel and will show kids that eating together is festive.

Make sure you never let mealtimes change into family argument time.

Love and Accept Them No Matter What

It wouldn’t work out that well if you were too harsh on your expectations, so it’s crucial to keep that in mind. Love and accept your child at any weight, shape or size. Growth in children is very  unpredictable. It comes in spurts and a once-skinny child can suddenly gain weight while his height is still catching up. Help your child maintain his weight until his height catches up. The ideal way to do that is to incorporate healthy eating habits and encourage your child to be active.

Amanda Bentley has 5 years’ experience in the food and beverage industry and currently works as a Content writer at Qavashop (www.qavashop.com/).  Qavashop.com is an online store for all the “coffee aficionados” located in the GCC. Apart from providing its customers with quality coffee machines and consumables, it also provides them with skilled, knowledgeable advice on how to make their own restaurant quality espresso at home.