Encouraging kids to eat healthy food is an ongoing challenge most parents face. For some reason, they just don’t find sprouts and broccoli as attractive as chips and candy. But as parents, we want to encourage our kids to eat healthily, stay fit, and grow up with a good attitude towards food. It’s not impossible; it just takes a bit of time, education, and careful planning. Here are some top tips for getting your kid excited about healthy food.
Trips to the grocery store aren’t exactly fun, and having the kids in tow doesn’t make it any easier, but it is an excellent way to teach them the importance of healthy choices when it comes to food. Encourage your kids to take part in the weekly shop and meal planning. If they feel like they have some say in the family meals, they’re more likely to want to join in with the healthy options at meal times. Before you go out, enlist their help in writing the shopping list. Ask them to think of vegetables and fruits that you should buy while you’re out. Once you’re at the grocery store, encourage them to choose the carrots or the apples from the shelves, so that when it comes to eating them, they know they chose them because they wanted them.
Grow Your Own
Kids love getting stuck in and mucky, so if you have the yard space, why not plant your own organic fruit and vegetables? They’ll love harvesting them when they’re ripe, and cooking and eating them will feel like a celebration of their achievements. You don’t need to grow a whole vegetable garden. A few tomato plants, some carrots, and some strawberries will be enough, and they’re all very straight forward. Obviously, avoid anything prickly or that can irritate the skin, such as raspberries. Just have fun, and let your children find their green fingers.
Have Them Cook With You
As is the case with growing your own vegetables, it’s great for kids to start a project that they’re able to enjoy at the end. If you encourage your children to cook with you, they’re more likely to want to eat the outcome, just out of sheer pride and curiosity. Pies, soups, and stews are all easy to do, healthy, great for winter, and will hide some of the vegetables to some extent, for the super fussy kids. Encourage the younger children to help with pastry or seasoning, while some older children can be trusted to cut the vegetables and use a food processor, with adult supervision.
Make The Meal Fun
Food shouldn’t just be meat and two types of veg on a plate with a knife and fork. Food should be an adventure in which kids can get involved. Try construct-your-own burritos or tacos, so the kids can pile theirs as high as they want, use their hands, and get messy. Homemade pizzas are great for getting veggies in, and the children can add the toppings themselves. Encourage them to put the vegetables in the shape of smiley faces, cars, or animals. It’s funny, engaging, and the vegetables will be eaten for sure. When you want to serve their food up yourself, why not lay it out as a funny face? Sandwiches for hair, strawberries for eyes, apple slices for ears, and carrot sticks for a smiling mouth. It’s amusing, engaging, and still healthy and delicious.
Use colours and shapes to maximize their interest in the food. If they’re fans of space or animals, appeal to that with the shape you cut their vegetables or their cheese. Utilize fun names for ordinary food. Broccoli can be ‘baby trees’, carrots are ‘snowman noses’, and strawberries could be ‘Santa’s hats’. It sounds silly, but it works.
Eat In Fun Environments
For treats, take mealtimes away from the dining table. Encourage the kids to join you in picnic planning, and make sandwiches, fruit salad, and cucumber and carrot sticks. Hike to your picnic destination to guarantee that when you arrive they’re famished, and you can guarantee the food will be eaten. When the weather is good, try eating in your yard, especially if the meal includes vegetables grown right there next to the table.
Encouraging kids to understand healthy meal choices and appreciate good food is all part of bringing them up to be healthy and self-reliant adults. The key thing to remember is to involve them in the processes of acquiring and preparing food, so they don’t just believe that a meal falls from the sky onto their plate. If all else fails, hide the vegetables in foods they already enjoy, and hope that one day they’ll just outgrow the fussy phase.