Do you ever feel like you are fighting a losing battle trying to get your kids to eat healthy foods? I was a very lucky mom. My kids loved vegetables. I started my children as babies eating a lot of different kinds of vegetables. I even fed them beets cooked and mashed up before they had teeth. Most of my grandchildren love their vegetables also. But then with a grandmother that’s a health coach, they’ve gotten healthy food given to them since they were babies also.
Sometimes, however a mom tries, getting kids to eat healthy foods is like trying to herd cats. Kids can come up with so many different reasons why they shouldn’t eat said foods. They don’t want to, shouldn’t have to, it doesn’t taste good – even though they have never tried it –right down to the fact that they think they may be allergic to the food in question, and will very likely keel over dead if they have to take a single bite of it. Kids are masters at dodging the proverbial ball of health food. There are, however, a few ways to get your kids to try new foods. After all, they have an arsenal of reasons why not to eat it, why not keep your own stockpile of weaponry to get them to eat the food they don’t want to.
- Start Early
If you have very young children, start offering them healthy alternatives. Make sure they try a food before they say they don’t like it. My husband and I loved Brussel’s Sprouts, our children on the other hand, not so much. So every time I made Brussel’s Sprouts for dinner, we made the kids eat one little “cabbage ball”. Our daughter would sit and cry, but our son would put it in his mouth, chew it up and when no one was looking would spit it out into the paper napkin. I truly believe that while he was pretending to eat them, he was at least getting the flavor of them and this is why he has grown to like Brussels Sprouts and our daughter, to this day, can’t stand them. 🙂
2. Be a Role Model
Children’s minds are like a piece of bread, soaking up all of the oil surrounding it. Being a role model and continually trying new foods in front of and with your child can help to shape their ideas about trying new things. It’s important to let your kids see that it’s ok, and even fun, to try new things from time to time. Demonstrating the adventure and intrigue of trying new foods will stick in your child’s memory for the rest of their life.
3. Meal Plan and Implement Together
Kids are more apt to eat something if they made it, or at least planned to make. Letting your kids help plan, some or all of the weekly meals, and even help cook the meals increases the chance that they will try and like foods you are preparing.
Children are stimulated and become completely engrossed when they have the opportunity to get into a hands-on position. I think one of my grandchildren’s favorite things to do is help me cook or bake. Even the three year old loves to help, and by allowing them to help plan the meals and to prepare and cook the food, they are seeing exactly what goes into the pot and there are fewer surprises for them to come up with the excuse that they don’t like what is in it.
4. Make it fun
Let your kids play with their food. Get creative, remember ants on a log? Go on Pinterest to get ideas if you can’t come up with any on your own.
5. Keep Healthy Options
There is nothing worse than having your kid come in from playing, look for a snack, finding nothing healthy and heading right for the potato chip bag, or the pretzels or what have you. Children learn from, and rely heavily on the ability to make their own decisions, whether it is on what clothes they want to wear, or the types of foods they want to eat. It is important to offer a wide variety of choices to your kids.
My daughter works full time outside of the home. Although her kids love fresh broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers and celery, she just didn’t have time to go to the grocery store, buy all those vegetables, cut them up and have them ready for the kids to snack on when they got home. So she goes to Sam’s Club, buys one of their vegetable trays and sets it out on the table for the kids to snack on while she is preparing dinner. The kids are happy because they are eating snacks that they love, my daughter is happy because she is able to supply healthy vegetables to her kids. It’s a win/win situation. Just remember to respect your childrens likes and dislikes and change the different options up frequently so they don’t get bored.
Getting your children to eat healthy is as simple as letting them get involved. When they interact with all of their senses, suddenly, trying new foods becomes fun and intriguing. Allowing children to help out in preparing the meal builds a sense of pride and accomplishment. If all else fails, throw some new fruits and veggies in the blender with a little honey and they will never know the delicious smoothie they are drinking is actually good for them. Hiding the foods they don’t like, inside of foods they love, is a great fail-safe weapon to keep locked and loaded.
Let me know in the comments section if this has gotten you thinking, or you come up with any other ideas of your own to get your kiddos eating healthier foods without whining.