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20 Teeny-Tiny Healthy Changes that Your Kids Won’t Even Notice


Don’t sweat! You don’t need to overhaul your family’s diet to make healthy change. Try these small, achievable steps that help you improve the quality of your family’s food without a big investment (and without hearing complaints!)

I once got an email from a mom who was trying to feed her family healthier food. Her kids let her know she has gone “too far” with all this healthy eating stuff

It reminded me of phases my mom went through while I was growing up. First there was “tofu season.” Then there were the gluten free days, the dairy-free days, the sugar-free days… you get the idea. As kids, we sometimes felt like these changes were big, and sudden. It could be overwhelming!

But healthy change doesn’t have to feel that way. Focusing on small changes really can make a difference. And perhaps more importantly, they’re sustainable!

Here are a few teeny-tiny changes you can make to your family’s food, that won’t leave kids feeling like everything about the family food landscape has changed.

20 Teeny Tiny Healthy Changes You Can Make This Week

  1. Use extra virgin oil instead of canola or vegetable oil.
  2. Reduce portion sizes of foods that are high in sugar, refined oils, and refined grains.
  3. Substitute ingredients to boost nutrition (like pureed beans or applesauce in place of oil, or bananas in place of sugar.)
  4. Replace sugar-added peanut butter with a natural brand that has just two ingredients: peanuts and salt.
  5. Replace white bread with whole wheat bread, and white rice with brown rice.
  6. Switch your brands of cereals to ones with five grams of added sugars or fewer.
  7. Replace juices with water, or water down juices.
  8. Include a fruit or vegetable at every meal.
  9. Make your kids smoothies once a week.
  10. Take a walk after dinner.
  11. Add an apple (or pear, or orange) a day!
  12. Eat one meal together at least a few days a week. Studies show families who eat together, eat healthier!
  13. Don’t skip breakfast. Even if it’s a piece of fruit and toast, don’t let your family miss it.
  14. Make your own desserts. Homemade anything is better than commercially prepared (even when it’s cookies.)
  15. Switch to low-sodium broth and condiments.
  16. Eat a handful of nuts each day.
  17. Plan your meals ahead of time. Your family won’t know the difference, but it’s the best way to ensure a home cooked meal will be ready for your family.
  18. Change how you talk about healthy eating to focus to eating MORE fruits and veggies, rather than LESS of other foods.
  19. Get to bed 20 minutes earlier!
  20. Eat popcorn! This underrated snack is packed with whole grain nutrition.
  21. Use beans to round out meaty dishes like tacos, chili, and bolognese. (This is a budget-friendly way to stretch your meals, too!

Remember, you don’t want your kids to feel stressed about dietary changes. You want them to enjoy eating healthy so they will choose it for life. So go ahead and start small!

Do you have any teen tiny tips for healthy living that your kids won’t notice?

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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Love these tips, thank you! Here’s one more: put flax meal in pancake/waffle mix, and in smoothies. Every little bit of fiber and omegas helps.

We switched to whole wheat pasta, no one noticed.
We use the spray butter (margarine) instead of dishing it out with a knife for toast. Much less fat. It’s also yummy on popcorn.
Homemade cream of chicken/mushroom soups instead of canned. So many recipes online for that.
( everyone probably already does these, so they might not be anything new)

We just started having “dessert” every night. Our desserts are fruit. I bought some cute little glass bowls from the dollar store (3/$1) to use for dessert bowls. I put different kinds of fruits in them or use a recipe I find on your site and sometimes we put a little dollop of whipped cream on the top. Amazing what a label will do. The kids feel like they are getting a treat every night and I feel good they are getting an extra serving of fruit. I hope to retrain their idea of what dessert is.

I have become a big fan of throwing in milled flax or puréed fruits and veggies to our favorite dishes. No one notices the flax meal on the baked chicken nuggets or the butternut squash in the pancake batter. It let’s me lower the oil content of the recipes, too.

I LOVE this list! Our family is making changes, and I’m happy with them, but they have to be small changes. This is definitely helpful!

Great ideas! I love to give my son healthy choices to make on his own. Instead of “what do you want for a snack?” I ask “Do you want a banana or some berries?”

I saw your cute plates in Disney’s Family Fun magazine – congrats!!

I love this list! I’d like to suggest that parents include their children in food prep — be it washing fruit and veggies, using a salad spinner or stirring a bowl of something. Also, simply modeling healthy eating for your kids will go a long long way towards helping them adopt healthy eating habits in their lives. At Mom Made Foods, we believe wholeheartedly that small changes matter, which is why we’ve taken the food that kids love and make them healthier.

I don’t remember any of that. However it would have been very healthy. Gary on the other hand will have none of it even though I do try.

This is a great list! I’d add that you can make your own pancakes and waffles to replace Eggos. They freeze really well so about one night/week I make up a big batch (my son LOVES breakfast-for-dinner) and I freeze the leftovers. The waffles reheat just like Eggos in the toaster; pancakes are best to thaw in the microwave. I’ve added flax, fruit, etc. to the batter, and it all freezes great.

I agree everyone should eat a little healthier and even though you are eating healthier doesn’t mean u can’t enjoy the bad stuff in moderations

Great List – many things I didn’t think of. While I’m not a huge fan of hiding veggies in food, my kids know that whenever I make chili or pasta sauce, I shred a couple of carrots and zucchinis and add them in. Although my kids hate zucchini plain, the admit that they like it shredded up in other things! they also tried flax at costco on some yogurt and loved it so they add it to that.

I replace part of the flour in pikelets with ground oats. I also halve the sugar in most cake/cookie recipes and no one has ever noticed!

Before dinner, I put out a share plate of salad or chopped raw vegies and dip for the kids to graze on while I get the meal ready. They eat far more vegies than if I serve them with the meal.

I don’t know if it would go unnoticed by kids (it would likely be noticed in the fridge at least), but swapping plain Greek yogurt for sour cream is nearly undetectable and a huge bump in health!

This sounds a little crazy, but I have pureed sweet potato – about the consistency of peanut butter. When making my son’s peanut butter sandwiches (that he eats about 80% of the time for lunch), I mix the puree with the PB and he never knows it. I haven’t done this in awhile – he went through a yogurt phase so I didn’t keep the puree handy. I have also put the puree in with spaghetti sauce, as well as zucchini puree.

Preparing and educating kids about healthy living helps them build up good habits from a young age. They can grow up with these healthy habits that can help them. These e tips will surely come in handy.