If you want to help your kids become healthy eaters, or you’ve been struggling to get them to eat healthy foods, I’ve got a great new resource for you. Christina Kamp, author of Little Sprouts Learning and an experienced childcare professional, has been focusing on healthy eating for kids for more than 20 years. And she’s written a new book, Zero to Hero Nutrition: How to Actually Get Kids to Eat Healthy Food. that lets non-professionals (like me!) in on her secrets.
(This post includes Amazon affiliate links. Also, the author provided me with a PDF preview copy of the book. However, the opinions in this review are entirely my own – if I didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t review it!)
Zero to Hero Nutrition is a practical guide to getting kids to eat – and like! – fruits, vegetables and other nutritious foods, while reducing the amount of processed foods they eat. Christina has used these ideas with her own daughter (now a healthy-eating young adult) and with 80+ children who have attended her home-based childcare center. There is nothing theoretical about this book! Christina knows what works and what doesn’t for busy moms and families, and she lays it all out in a way that’s easy to understand and follow.
Topics covered in the book include 3 Simple Tips for Getting Started, Why Food Matters, How to Introduce New Foods, Expectations, Cooking Tips, How to Connect Kids with Their Food, and more.
Healthy Eating for Kids – Tips and Strategies
Here are some of the practical ideas she offers:
- Make small changes. Nothing is more frustrating to kids (and adults) than having their diet turned upside down. If you suddenly cut off all of their favorite foods and replace them with broccoli and asparagus, you’ll have a mutiny on your hands! So start with one small thing, then gradually add another, then another. Christina includes a long list of small steps you can take, including replace white and brown sugar with raw sugar, read labels and avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup, buy blocks of cheese and grate it yourself (to avoid additives in grated cheese), cut out sugary drinks, and let kids eat fruits and vegetables raw.
- Introduce new foods with familiar foods. Kids and adults love foods that are familiar to them, so use that to your advantage. For example, add a small side serving of a new food (like broccoli) to a favorite meal (like spaghetti). Add some sweet potatoes to the more familiar white potatoes when you roast vegetables. Or add a new fruit to a favorite fruit salad, rather than serving it by itself.
- Give kids variety and choices. Whenever possible, offer several healthy choices and let kids choose. If they’re used to eating carrot sticks, add some strips of colorful peppers and sugar snap peas to make a veggie plate, then let them choose the ones they want to try. Or offer a vegetable and a fruit. For a starch, offer whole grain pasta and whole wheat bread or rolls. And be sure to actually let them choose, rather than forcing choices.
- Help kids connect with their food. If you want to raise healthy eaters who enjoy good food, do two things – help them grow food and let them help prepare meals and snacks for the family. Children need to know where their food comes from, and they love to play in dirt! So teach them to grow food. You don’t need a big garden. You can grow vegetables in pots or small raised beds. Children also love to help prepare food. It gives them ownership of the healthy food you want them to eat and it teaches them important life skills. So teach them age-appropriate food prep skills and encourage them to help. Yes, it can be messy, but in the long run it’s worth the effort.
- Make family meals fun and relaxing. When kids feel relaxed at the table, and see you relaxing and enjoying healthy foods, they’re much more likely to try those foods. Don’t push or force certain foods, and don’t require that children clean their plates. Turn off the TV and keep phones and tablets away from the table. And don’t focus on problems during meals – use mealtime to talk about everyone’s day, tell jokes and stories, and just enjoy spending time together. Healthy eating for kids should be fun!
These are just a few of the dozens of tips, ideas and strategies included in Zero to Hero Nutrition. But that’s not even the half of it. The book also includes resources that will lead you through an 8-week process of improving your family’s diet. It’s like having an expert leading you by the hand as you tackle a challenge that seems a bit overwhelming! The resources include:
- Dozens of kid-tested healthy recipes
- 4 weeks of healthy meal plans
- 4 weeks of shopping lists
- 8 weeks of step-by-step instructions for changing your family’s diet – one step at a time.
These resources are tremendous – they literally walk you through the entire process of helping your kids become healthy, happy eaters.
Zero to Hero Nutrition: How to Actually Get Kids to Eat Healthy Food is $9 on Amazon. (Note: It’s on sale today, June 22, for $2.99!) If you’ve been wanting to help your kids eat healthier, or you’ve started working on it but have run into some roadblocks, this is a great resource that will help you move forward quickly and confidently.