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Help kids learn healthy eating habits

Get your kids to eat fruits and vegetables.
Get your kids to eat fruits and vegetables.
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Getting kids to eat healthy can be a challenge for many parents especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. The good news is you have the ability to outsmart your kids.

Remember, you are the parent. Too many parents allow their kids to get the best of them, which in turn results in the parent giving up and losing the battle. There does not have to be a battle at all. It is your job to guide you children and teach them good habits, or they will develop bad habits that can be detrimental to their lives.

Children learn from example and they adjust to what they are used to. If your children see you eating fruits and vegetables, they will be more willing to try them. Children also are great adapters. Their minds are still developing and therefore easier to influence.

If you are a new parent with a baby and your baby is at the age to begin eating baby food, be sure to introduce all different kinds of fruits and vegetables to find out what your baby prefers. Get your baby in the habit of eating their fruits and vegetables first before you give them any other part of their meal. As your baby grows and starts to eat solid foods, make sure you follow this same routine. Your child will get used to this and it will become habit.

If you have children that are already toddlers or in grade school and you have difficulty getting them to eat their fruits and vegetables, it is not too late to help them change their eating habits.

Fruits are usually easier to get children to eat because they contain sugar. Make small portions and pieces. For example, cut up half of an apple into bite size pieces and see if your child would like to dip it in something like peanut butter. Smaller portions and pieces make the goal of finishing a food much easier for a child and adding a dip provides more flavor. Over time, you can increase the portions and omit the dip.

Vegetables are usually the biggest challenge for kids. You can add vegetables to a fruit smoothie, which is probably the easiest way. Vegetables like spinach and kale are great to add to smoothies and are high in vitamin A, C and K. If your child likes salad, cut up fresh spinach, apples and strawberries to add to it. They cannot usually tell the difference between the lettuce and spinach and the apples and strawberries add a sweet touch.

If all else fails, tough love is the last resort and can be very effective. During every meal, only offer your child their fruits and vegetables first. Do not allow them to have or eat any other part of the meal until they finish all their fruits and vegetables. It is important not to give in even if they cry and whine. If you do give in, you are allowing them to engage in a bad habit with the award being not having to do what they are told and getting what they want. You do not want your child to get used to bad habits but you want to teach them good ones.

If your child is hungry enough, they will eat the fruits and vegetables. If your child really wants to eat the rest of their food and get a dessert, they will eat their fruits and vegetables. Over time, eating fruits and vegetables will become a habit and their taste buds will adjust to the flavor. The more you encourage healthy eating and healthy habits and reward them for doing these things, they will adapt and eating healthy will become something they take with them for the rest of their lives.

Find great ways to make fruits and vegetables simple, fun and delicious here.