So you want your kids to eat healthy foods, but all they want is sugary snacks... What do you do?
Kids are all about the fun factor. Remember that you’re competing with fierce advertising from food companies who make their sugary treats seem like the coolest thing on earth. Stop trying to reason with your child that eating broccoli is good for them. That’s not fun at all, and it probably isn’t working.
Here are my best tips for getting kids to eat healthy without complaints:
1. Lead by Example
Don’t think your kids won’t notice if you’re skipping the veggies. They will pick up on the smallest signals that you don’t like your asparagus. You can’t expect your kids to eat what you don’t want to eat yourself. Eat healthy doses of vegetables — raw and cooked — and make sure you show how much you like them.
2. Have Them Help Make It Kids are very proud of their accomplishments, so if they’ve helped make the dinner, they are more likely to eat it. Kids will be more likely to eat their masterpiece than something that’s been made for them.
3. Shapes are Fun Rather than serving a pile of vegetables beside a glop of hummus, arrange the vegetables to look like something — a happy face, landscape, a house, whatever. Although it removes the crust, consider using cookie cutters on sandwiches to make them more fun.
4. Change the Name Broccoli is boring, mini trees are fun. Peas are boring, green rabbit poop is fun. Carrots are boring, snowman noses are fun. As I mentioned, kids have an affinity for gross and funny stuff. So what if you have to call “hummus” something totally disgusting for a little while? If it gets your kids to eat it, who really cares? Over time, your kids will grow out of the funny names, but they will be well into the habit of healthy eating.
5. Hide the Good Stuff As much as I would really like every kid in the world to learn to like asparagus light sabers, I understand the reality that some kids just will not be humored into eating their vegetables. For these hard-to-crack cases, you may have to hide the goodies in something their little palates will handle. If all else fails, hide the good stuff and don’t make a big deal out of it. Smoothies are a great way to get kids to drink a salad’s worth of vegetables. Use strawberries and beets to pinkify the beverage. Use bananas or dates to make it a little sweet. You can blend carrots and zucchini into tomato sauce.
What others things have you tried that have been a success? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!