Getting your child to eat healthy can be a huge battle. With the abundance of unhealthy choices available today, it certainly is easy for children to get hooked on junk food instead of real food. Proper nourishment is important for growth and development, and starting good eating habits early helps to foster great eating habits throughout your child’s lifetime. Here are some tips on how to get started.

Don’t offer your child junk.

Don’t purchase sugary and processed foods. Instead, fill your cupboards and refrigerator with healthy, nutritious foods and snacks. Aim for balanced meals, and snacks consisting of cut-up fruits, vegetables, whole grain granola bars and rice cakes.

Offer healthy dips to go with fruits and vegetables.

Kids love to dip their food, and there is no better way to get them to eat cut-up fruits and veggies. You can just use yogurt for dipping the fruit in, and a homemade ranch or veggie dip for the vegetables.

Take your child with you when you shop for food.

Take them to the farmers' market or fruit stand and to the grocery store. Let them help decide between different fruits and vegetables and other healthy snacks. Shop the perimeter of your store and stay away from the aisles that tend to hold the junk food you are trying to avoid.

Have your child help in the kitchen.

When kids get to help prepare food, they are more likely to eat it. Make a game of it and even have them dress up as the chef. Purchasing a kids size apron and chef hat will do the trick. Let them help decide what you will prepare and then make sure the chef gets the first taste.

Model good eating habits. Kids live and learn by example. If they see that you eat junk, that's what they'll want to eat too. If they see you making healthy eating choices, they will be more likely to do the same.

Sneak in the healthy foods as a last resort.

Try making smoothies from yogurt and fresh or frozen fruits. Blend it all together with a small amount of milk or juice. You can even sneak in flax seeds or veggies like carrots. Make muffins with bran or other healthy grains and fruits or vegetables, limiting the amount of sugar. Blend pureed pumpkin or grated apple into pancakes. Finely chop onions, peppers, carrots, and other veggies to add to your spaghetti sauce. You can also add finely chopped veggies to hamburger patties.

Don't give up!

Finally, don’t give up. When one thing doesn’t work, try another. Every child is different and you never know what will set the light bulb off for your child. Eventually your time and effort will pay off.