How can parents get kids to eat healthy foods? From broccoli to water chestnuts, many kids do not want to eat their vegetables. Getting kids to eat healthy foods can be a struggle, especially if very young children are used to eating only what they want. Here are a few tricks which just might make eating healthy foods fun for kids!
The name for this one is courtesy of my daughter, who did not want to eat healthy foods! I have both boys and girls. My kids were split on the issue of eating healthy foods. While apples and carrots were popular with one, they were not with the others. My pediatrician recommended a game his wife thought up to get their kids to want to eat healthy foods.
Give each child a variety of fruits and vegetables. Place a number of different sauces and dressings in bowls down the center of the table. Allow each child to dip their veggies and fruits in the different sauces until they find new flavour combinations they like. This can become quite interesting. Barbecue sauce covered apples may be hit with one, while melted cheese might taste great on baby corn to another. Even combinations that may seem bizarre to us might seem great to a child!
The Good Old Dessert Ploy
Tried and true, this method does work. Let each child know that a clean plate means a bite of dessert. Whether a small slice of pumpkin pie or a scoop of ice cream, the promise of dessert always provides great motivation.
Change Their Perception
What if “treats” became apple slices or fresh strawberries? Change the wording you use and watch how your children begin to see the world of food. A simple enough idea, this method works wonders, especially with small children. I have a son who does not like marshmallows, but loves baby carrots! Every time you serve up sliced apples, refer to them as “treats”.
Elementary school children learn the importance of eating healthy foods at school, and often come home excited about fruits and vegetables. You can reinforce this by supplying healthy snacks at home. Raisins are good, sweet treats that can be used as a springboard for grapes (for older kids age 6 and up), fresh strawberries, and melon.
The Pop-Eye Ploy
My neighbor’s great grandson is adamant that he is going to be big and strong. If he eats all of his green beans, he will grow up to be big and strong. Every time he comes to visit, he makes a point of eating his veggies.
“Try One Bite”
My grandmother always used this rule for us, “Try one bite, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat anymore.” This is a great rule for kids. The only trick is to make sure that their “one bite” is a visible bite- no infinitesimal munching here! Many times, kids will discover they actually like the new food being proffered.
Meal time goes smoothly if less of a deal is made over the food. Ignore stubbornness, and stick to the rule. (Polite table manners not to be excluded, of course.) Good behaviour and one, proper, good bite results in the choice to either “aim for dessert” or “get down and go to bed”.
I hope these ideas help. My kids used to come home hungry for chips and junk food; now they ask for whole wheat bread and apple slices, or fresh, baby carrots and cheese. Just think of broccoli as “trees” and withhold the junky munchies!