How do I get my junk food lover kid to eat healthier food?

With all the commercials for junk food and tempting, accessible snacks, it's unavoidable that kids taste a few here and there. Kids gravitate toward sweets and crunchy treats, and often snack on them multiple times during the day. In doing this, they unfortunately ruin their appetites by the time it's lunch or dinner.

However, junk food isn't only confined to chips and chocolates. Fast food, instant noodles, and other things with low nutritional value are also considered in this "food group". It's one of the reasons why it's difficult to deviate from junk food and offer healthy options for your kids - it's very easy to order takeout instead of stay home and cook a meal.

Despite the challenges, switching your kids to a healthier diet can have a significant effect on their overall health, growth, mental and emotional development, and mood management. This translates into adolescence and adulthood; their developing years have a profound effect on the rest of their lives.

One thing to keep in mind is that your child's diet is majorly influenced by external factors, apart from having their own personal preferences. Encouraging them to eat healthier involves a hardy foundation in the home and provide a variety of healthy food that your kids will find appetizing.

Here are some tips to guiding your kids from junk food to more nutritious choices:

1. It starts from the top - breakfast.
Your child's momentum begins at breakfast, not just in terms of their diet, but also their mood and drive to study and be active throughout their day.

Breakfast need not be complicated - starting off with wholegrain toast, low-salt eggs, high-protein cereal, and your trusted multivitamin supplement is great to kickstart your child's appetite. Assembling a quick breakfast burrito for your kid to take on the way to school is also an easy fix.

2. Look at the big picture.
Deal with your child's diet with an overall perspective rather than on a meal-by-meal basis. They should be eating more whole foods rather than processed or packaged food, and changing just their lunch or dinner won't give a significant effect to the entire situation.

3. Rather than takeout, stay in.
At home, you and your kids have a full grasp on what you eat and, more importantly, what goes in your food. One of the easiest ways to consistently eat at home is to cook in bulk at the start of the week. Making your family's dishes at once can save time throughout the week, and leave more time for happy conversations at the dinner table.

4. Purge and restock your home.
Making healthy snacks available will guide your kids toward them without necessarily forcing them. Keeping junk food away from your home and only having nutritious food within reach will gear your child's preferences to the more healthy.

Take this opportunity to find alternatives for their junk food. Avoid shocking your kids and having a tantrum on your hands by cutting back on junk food instead of letting them go cold turkey. Substitute ice cream with frozen yogurt or fruit, potato chips with veggie or mushroom chips or even nuts, and donuts with raisin bagels. The possibilities are endless!

5. Practice what you preach.
Be a role model to your child. Kids imitate what they see in adults, especially their parents. Plus, seeing that their parents are enjoying what they eat, they'll feel more comfortable in trying new things.