When we decided to change our lifestyle, one of the biggest challenges was changing the way we eat. Like most of you, we’re a pretty busy family. And even though we tried to eat healthy, I had to admit that we ate a lot of fast convenience foods (things out of the pantry). Which also meant we didn’t eat enough fresh foods (things out of the fridge or freezer). Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like the boys never ate fruits or vegetables. It’s just, when it came to snack time they were used to getting crackers or goldfish or veggie chips or even Cheez-its. So when I offered watermelon, carrots and guacamole, grapes or bananas…well, let’s just say they resisted. While they adjusted I had to come with some creative ways to “encourage” them to eat the foods I wanted them to eat instead of the foods they were used to eating. Here are a few of the ideas that worked best for us.
Fueling Up Like Race Cars – The boys are really into all things cars, especially the characters from the Cars movie. One day we were running around pretending to be race cars. The boys were Lightening McQueen and I was wearing a green shirt so they made me Chick. After racing around the house for awhile they decided they were hungry. I put together a tray of fresh fruit and told them it was gas for their cars. We ran several laps and then everyone had to make a pit stop to check their tires and fill up on gas. Suddenly, they weren’t thinking about what was on the tray at all. They were just eating it and having a great time. When the game was over, all the fruit was gone and they were tired from all the activity. Since then, we’ve discovered a lot of twists on the original idea. You can modify this idea to fit a play-date with lots of kids or even for a birthday party. Have every child wear a shirt that matches the color of their favorite character. You can add race numbers to the back with duct tape. Map out a course based on their skill level. You can do this in the backyard or even at the park. Add obstacles if the kids are older and you want to make it more challenging and include a finish line they can break through to make it more exciting. Give the kids instructions to make a pit stop every 2 or 3 laps to fuel up. To really encourage them to try new foods you can match the food color to the color of their car. The red car might fuel up on strawberries, the green car on grapes and the orange car on cantaloupe. Hand out prizes or medals and even designate an adult to ”call” the race as the announcer. The kids will have so much fun they won’t even realize they are getting exercise and eating healthy.
Taste The Rainbow – Steal a line from the Skittles ads and have your kids ”taste the rainbow.” Start the day by drawing a rainbow on a piece of paper. Hang it where the kids can see it and encourage them to pick foods that make up the colors of the rainbow. Every time they eat a new color they get to fill in that piece of the rainbow. If your kids are older you can have them cut the colors out of construction paper and glue them on. Use your imagination and have fun with it and they will too.
Hide-n-Go Seek – When all else fails. hide the fruits and vegetables in the foods they like. Some days they just aren’t into their fruits and vegetables and I don’t have the energy to argue with them. On these days, I have a stash of Happy Baby fresh, frozen organic fruit and vegetable cubes in the freezer. I drop them into whatever I’m cooking and know the kids (and my picky husband) are getting some extra vitamins and nutrients. If I’m making spaghetti sauce, I might drop in a few spinach cubes or sweet potato cubes. If I make homemade mac-n-cheese I drop in squash or cauliflower. You get the idea.
These are a few of my ideas. How do you get your family to eat their fruits and vegetables and try new things?