10 Steps to Change Kid’s Food Habits: Healthy Eating Strategies

Reviewed & edited by Marcella Raskin. This blog is supported by its readers. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Kids can be finicky eaters. If you have a picky kid at the dinner table, it’s a daunting task to get them to try new foods. However, there are ways that you can encourage your kids to expand their food repertoires and become more open-minded about trying new things. These ten steps will help parents change their children’s food habits by encouraging healthy eating strategies from an early age! 

Start With a Healthy Breakfast

breackfast healthy chico

The first meal of the day sets the tone for how your child eats for the rest of the day. A healthy breakfast, with a balanced mix of protein, carbs, fruits, and vegetables will promote positive eating behaviors throughout the day. Be sure to avoid sugary cereals or any other sweetened breakfasts that are high in sugar content.

A recent study by the University of Minnesota found that children who skip breakfast are more likely to be obese and have a lower intake of essential nutrients. In order for your children to get into healthy eating habits, they need to start their day with a healthy breakfast. It’s important that you make them oatmeal instead of sugary cereal or Pop-Tarts because it is full of fiber and can help them focus better in school throughout the morning.

A good recipe for a healthy breakfast is putting oatmeal and cinnamon together in a bowl. Add some honey and raisins to the mixture and you will have a delicious and filling breakfast!

Another option for a healthy breakfast is a breakfast burrito. Make a wrap with some toast, an egg, and other ingredients that your child likes. You can also replace the bread with a tortilla to make it healthier.

Children Should be Encouraged to try New Foods

It is usually not too difficult to get kids to eat their favorite foods, but it can be difficult to get them to try new foods. Kids need to know that healthy eating habits should make up at least half of their child’s diet. If you want your child to develop healthy eating habits, they need to try a wide range of different kinds of food every day.

Learn about positive and negative words when encouraging healthy eating habits in children.  By using positive language while trying new foods or expanding your child’s current food preferences you will help your little one become more open-minded about trying something new! If you use negative language such as “you don’t like this,” you’re only going to discourage your budding eater and give them another reason to avoid trying new foods.

Kids can only learn healthy eating habits if they actually try them! If you always prepare your child’s favorite foods, which are usually carbs and salty snacks, for dinner, you’re only teaching them that all their food should be “safe” food. Of course, there will always be exceptions because even children with the best eating habits will sometimes choose not to eat something. It’s okay as long as it doesn’t become a habit.

Let your kids know it is okay to want to try new things and say things like “wow I didn’t know you could eat broccoli!” every time they try something new.

If you make your child afraid of trying anything other than what they already like, then not only will your child grow up to be a picky eater, but you will also miss out on all the health benefits of trying different kinds of food!

There is a fine line between encouraging healthy eating habits and forcing kids to eat their vegetables. If you want your child to develop into an open-minded adult with good eating habits then it’s best not to force them because one day they may start resenting food.

It can be difficult as a parent to sit at the table and watch your kid pick at their food or refuse everything that isn’t mac & cheese, so don’t worry if this happens every now and again. Kids go through phases where they just aren’t in the mood for new food. If this is the case, just try again later and let your kids know that they are allowed to say no even if their siblings or friends are eating it, because they deserve to eat what makes them happy.

Offer Water Instead of Juice or Soda

Sodas and juices contain a lot of sugar and can cause cavities. You should especially avoid soft drinks with high sugar content because they will rot your child’s teeth faster than anything else they can consume. Soda is also full of chemicals and caffeine which can cause hyperactivity in some children. So go for water instead; it’s healthier, cheaper, and has no calories either!

You can even try making your own juice at home by mixing fruits and vegetables. This will increase the nutritional value of your juice and it is a fun project to do with the kids! Encourage your kids to try new flavors of water too, such as cranberry or strawberry-lemonade flavored water instead of boring old tap water.

Keep Sweets in Moderation and Save them for Special Occasions

Sugars and candy may taste great to kids, but they can lead to cavities and weight gain. You shouldn’t indulge too much because it could cause dental problems and weight gain later on in life.

Although sweets are not that healthy for your child, you should allow your children to have them once in a while. You can even try giving your kids chocolate or ice cream occasionally if they have been good! Just remember to save the most sugary snacks for special occasions so that it doesn’t give kids the idea that these kinds of foods are an everyday thing. Try saving sweets for special occasions such as birthdays or Halloween nights!

If your child tries to beg for candy at the supermarket, just explain that it’s not healthy to have candy all of the time because it may damage their teeth and make them gain weight. Explain that if they eat too much candy it won’t be special anymore!

Avoid Buying Junk Food

The easiest way to prevent your kid from snacking on junk food is by not buying them in the first place! When you do buy snacks, go for healthier options such as fresh fruit or yogurt. If you really want to give your child candy then try to look at other alternatives like jelly beans because they are sugary without all of the chemicals that other types of candy have.

If your child manages to sneak some cookies or chips into their room, don’t be too hard on them because it could make them feel discouraged about trying new foods. Instead, just throw out the unhealthy snack and replace it with a healthier option next time!

Kids should not be seeing food like cookies, chips, and ice cream too often. If you have kids who are really young then maybe you can take them grocery shopping with you so that they can see what kinds of foods are healthy for them to eat. This will help the child understand why the unhealthy snacks are not good for them so that he or she can ask for healthier alternatives instead.

Limit snacks to one per day

You can get a lot of sugar from snacks that you would not expect, such as mac and cheese or yogurt. You should always read the label to know what your child is eating so that they don’t eat too much-hidden sugar!

If you do buy candy and other sugary snacks, it is best to keep them in a high cabinet in the kitchen so they won’t be tempted to ask for them when you aren’t around. Try keeping healthy snacks such as fruit on display in the living room instead of your children’s favorite candy bars just so they’re not tempted to indulge in something bad when they feel like snacking.

Teach them to Cook their Own Food

cook kids chico

If your child wants to have a certain type of snack, then it is probably best that they learn how to make it so that the food they are eating will be better for their bodies. If you want your child to eat healthier snacks then it’s important that you show them how to cook their own food so that it will taste good but not contain too much sugar or salt.

Instead of buying fast food, teach your kids how to cook their own meals! You can then make them healthier meals that they can eat for dinner. If you are busy making dinner yourself then give the kids some very simple recipes to prepare on their own, such as hot dogs or baked potatoes.

It’s also good if your child starts eating a lot of fruits and veggies at home because this way they’ll be more likely to eat these foods at school as well. If you can keep your children interested in cooking then they will probably want to try experimenting with healthy ingredients such as fruits and vegetables so this is a great way of getting them involved!

If you’re looking for cooking suggestions, the first thing I would recommend is to try and find a few recipes online and keep them in a file so that whenever your child wants to cook something all he or she has to do is look through these options and choose one! The best kinds of snacks are those that take only a few minutes to prepare so if your child starts saying “I’m hungry” as soon as you get home from work, you can give them something to snack on while you cook dinner.

Try keeping a list of simple recipes for your child to look through and choose from so that they don’t become too tempted by unhealthy snacks such as chips or candy bars!

Serve Healthy Snacks at School and After-School Activities

Instead of cookies or potato chips, give fruit as a snack. Whole fruit contains soluble fiber which helps maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day so you’ll have less energy dips and more focus in school!

Without adequate amounts of fiber in their diets, children may develop health issues like constipation.

If your child has a refrigerator and microwave at school then allow them to make their own lunches instead of only bringing pre-made sandwiches. This way, your child can make healthier choices about what he or she eats and avoid the temptations of cafeteria food.

When it comes to after-school activities, you should always pack a healthy snack such as fruit in case your child starts to get hungry around dinner time! It’s best to bring something like an apple or banana because these fruits won’t spoil when they sit in the car for hours.

It is important that children eat snacks throughout the day because they can provide energy which is necessary if your kids participate in sports teams or have long days at school.

Try to Roasting or Grilling instead of Frying

You should try baking foods instead of deep-frying them because it uses less oil or no oil at all so that the food is usually healthier. I really recommend getting your children involved in cooking in both ways because if they prepare meals like french fries or onion rings then they will hopefully see for themselves how much salt and oil goes into making these foods taste good; kids may even stop wanting to eat junk food after tasting the difference! 

Frying food can make certain dishes taste good but it also makes them more unhealthy because the oil used in frying traps the fat. Instead of using oil, you can choose to bake or grill your meats or vegetables for healthier meals that are just as tasty!

You can tell if foods have been fried because they’ll often be crispy and golden brown on the outside due to all of the oil used during cooking. When you’re looking at recipes, look for ways to cook your food without having to use too much oil so that your children aren’t tempted by deep-fried snacks like french fries or onion rings! There are plenty of options out there for healthy grilling recipes but I recommend simple dishes such as grilled chicken, steak, kabobs, or vegetables.

Make it fun! Include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

vegetal kids chico

It is important that you encourage your child to eat fruits and veggies by including them with every meal. If your children don’t like certain vegetables or fruits, you can always try introducing new types of products into their diet whenever possible! Another way of getting kids to eat fruit is by putting it at the bottom of the lunch box under all of their other items so that they won’t even notice it’s there until after they’ve eaten everything else!

There are many ways to make food healthier for kids. Cooking your own food is the best way because it tastes better and there’s less salt, sugar, and fat in it. You can draw pictures with vegetables so that kids don’t notice how healthy it is!

If you’re looking for some healthy snacks that include fruit then I recommend the following: skewers made out of sliced oranges, kiwis, pineapple, peaches, and strawberries; muffins

You can try making a few recipes for kids that include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains because these ingredients are usually healthier than dairy products or meats. It’s important to try and keep your children eating as many “real” foods as possible because this will create the best foundation for their health in the future. If you find ways to make sure they have proper snacks throughout the day then they will have more energy for after-school activities so I would recommend baking homemade cookies with them from time to time or just letting them eat a slice of fruit that contains no added sugar or salt!

Try some fun recipes such as fruit pizzas or veggie burgers that include whole grains for healthier snacks that kids will love eating! In addition, I recommend adding grains such as brown rice or whole-wheat pasta because these can provide energy when eaten with other foods during lunch or dinner.

Green food has its benefits: it contains healthy vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, K, and folate, which all contribute towards giving kids a strong immune system and protecting against chronic diseases like cancer. Studies show that children will eat more vegetables if they are prepared in an appetizing way. The best kinds of vegetables are those that have been seasoned with herbs and spices, which can be cooked along with meat to create a homemade spaghetti sauce!


As you can see, there are many different ways that we as parents and caregivers can help our kids develop healthy eating habits.

Remembering these 10 steps will help make it easier for all of us! What do you think? Did I miss anything? Share your thoughts in a comment below.


  • Brenda Tillman is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Practitioner, a dedicated mom blogger, and a life enthusiast. She also has completed courses on Parenting Skills, Learning, and Education. She is married and is the proud mother of a boy and two girls. She loves being with her family and pets. She has been blogging for over five years now and enjoys sharing her thoughts on parenting, relationships, health & fitness as well as other topics that come up in life.

Leave a Comment