Raising a Healthy Eater One Step at a Time
Raising a Healthy Eater One Step at a Time

“You don’t need to see the entire staircase to take the first step.” My father often quoted this from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as I was growing up. I have loved the quote because it applies to so many different situations, including getting your children to eat more healthfully.

Toddler WalkingLike many moms, I wish my son would automatically gobble up all of the nutrient-rich foods I serve. However, I realize this wish is an unrealistic view of the “entire staircase.” A more realistic approach is to take one small “step” at a time.

Here are some ideas, or small steps that are bound to help you and your children climb the staircase to healthier eating:

Try adding one more nutrient-rich food to each meal. Serving cereal and milk for breakfast? Add some blueberries. Making grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner? Use whole grain bread and add sliced tomato.

Think of snacks as “mini-meals.” Snacks are a great opportunity to pack in wonderful foods full of nutrients that your kids are sure to love. Try blending up a smoothie, top whole grain crackers with tuna salad, serve sliced veggies and pita crisps with a tangy yogurt dip.

Serve healthy food that is both kid and adult friendly. Say goodbye to being a short order cook. Instead, prepare meals everyone can enjoy together. Making tacos? Prepare toppings like shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce, sliced olives, chopped tomatoes and cilantro yogurt “sour cream." With so many choices at the table you and your kids can make it the way you like it!

Find clever ways to fill the nutrient gaps. It’s normal for children to avoid certain foods. However, they still need many of the important nutrients these foods provide. Taste isn’t always the culprit for food avoidance; it can also be the texture or appearance. If your child doesn’t like eating cooked veggies, try serving them raw with some dip. Find milk left in their glass? Try flavoring it with a just a tablespoon of chocolate syrup or blending it with frozen fruit.

Being a mom is a tough job, and we all can benefit from realistic and simple ways to raise healthy little eaters. Although it is in our mommy DNA to want to see the entire staircase, it’s really a sequence of small steps that make the difference for our kids in the end.