6 Simple Ways to Help Kids Eat a Balanced Diet

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help kids eat a balanced diet

It can be really difficult to teach kids to eat well.  Kids often start out their foray into solid foods with reluctance and suspicion.  If you’ve been a parent of a picky eater then you know how stressful this can be; the whining, the complaining, the complete and utter rejection of anything that resembles food in its original form.  It is enough to drive any parent INSANE.

If you read my blog regularly then you probably know that our family has been changing the way we eat.  We are trying to eat more whole foods and less boxed or prepackaged food.  We’ve always been fairly healthy, but now when I go to the grocery store over half the items in our cart are produce.

eat more veggies

And my kids eat it!!!!

So, they still don’t enjoy zucchini or bell peppers, but I love that they will ask for salad for snack and that they will eat cucumbers and carrots (without dip, no less!) with their lunch.

But, if you know my kids you know how far they’ve come.  My oldest is so picky that at 2 years old he was on a steady diet of apple juice (I still shake my head, wishing I’d known better about that one), cheese, yogurt, and beans.  My middle son is a sugar and carb addict–and I’m not exaggerating.  We had to wean him off the sugar gradually, and we notice odd stimming behaviors (repetitive blinking and spitting) when he eats a lot of certain foods.

So how did we do it?

Here are 6 simple tips to help kids eat a balanced diet:


1. Start young with healthy, whole food.  I can’t say enough about how awesome baby led weaning was for Little Z.  He still eats about twice the variety of foods that his brother’s eat.  He isn’t weirded out by foods in their original form and loves foods like salmon, olives, cucumber, salad, and loads more.

baby z eating a banana

2. Stop buying junk.  Start reading food labels.  If it has ingredients like hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors just keep walking.  You can’t eat it if you don’t have it.  If you are trying to eat healthier, but your kids freak out when you bypass their favorite junk foods let them each pick out one treat that they can share with their siblings throughout the week– *see the next tip.

3. Establish “treat days” or “dessert nights”. I can see some people disagreeing with me on this one, but it has worked very well with my sugar addict.  Things got so bad with my middle son that he was asking for a dessert after every single meal…including breakfast…and snack time.  I cringed when I thought about how much sugar he was eating every day.  When we decided that we would have dessert nights–really it is just a day when they get to pick out a treat to eat after one of their meals–the incessant asking for treats stopped.  They look forward to their treat days, but there isn’t weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth in the interim.

4. Teach your kids the components of a healthy meal and then let them choose.  It is easy to get kids to eat healthy when you give them the power to choose what they will eat.  Our kids love lunch because they know that they get to choose what they eat (as opposed to dinner where they eat what I make 🙂 ). For lunch they choose 1.) A protien (usually, but not always coupled with a starch like bread),  2.) a fruit, 3.) a vegetable.  This single step has probably been the most successful step in helping our kids eat a balanced diet.  They take pride in getting to choose their own food, and knowing they are making good food choices.

5. Don’t feel like you have to be perfect.  Don’t feel like you always have to stick to the rules.  If you’re going to a party, let them eat cake. My kids love to get a soda with their meal when we eat out.  Being flexible will help your kids develop a healthy attitude about food.

6. Supplement with vitamins. Even though we try to make sure our kids get a balanced diet of whole foods, I know they are still don’t consume adequate amounts of certain important nutrients.  Good vitamins will help make up the difference.


What tips would you add to helping your kids eat a balanced diet?


About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. Great tips! It's nice to know that as we do get into fall there are tasty vitamins to help boost my kiddos. Staying healthy and strong!
  2. These are great tips. My son wasn't BLW but he's an excellent eater too. My family is constantly shocked at the choices he makes, but he eats what I do and that helps.
  3. This is helpful for ME as I just started changing my diet to eat healthier! If only I had started as a baby :) Great tips!
  4. Love these tips! And that image of the vegetables in the store is GORGEOUS and I WANT THEM ALL! lol
  5. These are some great tips. My kids love the gummy vitamins. Sometimes when they ask for one they ask for it they call it candy. I also sneak veggies into dishes, and they don't even realize it.
  6. my kids love lots of junk so we supplment with vitamins :) the gummi ones are their favorite!
  7. shelly peterson says
    Wonderful tips. I love the idea of letting them choose what they have for lunch. I will have to try these vitamins out.
  8. Thank you for the tips! We are trying to make a whole family lifestyle change as well, and this helps. My 9 year old is my carb and sugar addict. She will be the tough one.
    • We went through that with my 4 year old. He still gravitates towards sugar and carbs--he orders a hamburger not because he likes hamburgers, but because he wants the bun :/ --but now that he knows the kinds of foods his body needs (and the kinds of foods that are just to be enjoyed occasionally) he has begun making healthier food choices. I feel so proud when he asks for salad with his lunch! It takes a while so be patient and know that the cravings are strong--those foods are very addictive. Best of luck to you!
  9. i seriously need to stop eating junk because now my kids eat it its just so hard to not snack at night time!