Healthy eating habits are formed early in life; unfortunately, so are unhealthy eating habits. It is never too early to teach your children to make healthy food choices that will set them on the path to lifelong wellness. Below are five steps you can take to get your children started on developing habits of healthy eating at any age.

Involve Them in Food Preparation

Children love to be involved in grown-up activities. Don’t present meal preparation as a chore. Instead, let them see it as an adventure, one in which they can play an active and major role. Take them to the farmers market or grocery store with you whenever possible and let them choose a vegetable to include in a meal later on. They are more likely to try it if they were responsible for choosing it in the first place.

Create a Colorful Plate

Vegetables come in a variety of attractive and vibrant colors. Make your child’s plate more appealing and appetizing by including a nice mix of different colored vegetables and arranging them in an interesting way on the plate. If you are grabbing something out, such as a Papa John’s pizza, try to incorporate veggies to your meal.

Make Food Fun

Make your own pizza and top them with vegetables that your children choose or already love. (Every now and them sneak in a vegetable that you would like them to try.) Let them place the vegetables and other ingredients on the pizza. If you’re worried about what the final outcome will end up looking or tasting like, institute a rule that everyone has to eat what comes out of the oven. This way, they will be selective in what they include.

Pack the Flavor

To entice a finicky eater to try something new, cook or serve it with an ingredient you know your child already loves. Go ahead and let your child eat broccoli with cheese, Brussels sprouts cooked in butter or cauliflower with bacon sprinkles if that is what he or she enjoys. The added flavor will get them in the habit of enjoying vegetables. Later on when they know better, they will find a way to eat the vegetables without the added calories.

Reward Their Good Behavior

Be sure to express your approval, in glowing terms if necessary, when your child cleans his or her plate or tries a new vegetable or dish willingly. Reward their behavior with a treat you know they will appreciate and enjoy. However, do avoid using candy or dessert as a reward as this is counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve. Use food that your know your children enjoy, such as a pizza from Papa John’s instead.

Helping your children make healthy food choices from an early age is one of the most important lessons you can impart. Eat well and be happy!