10 ways to get kids to eat healthier
Are your kids picky? Do they refuse to eat healthy foods like green veggies? Are you worried about them getting enough vitamins and minerals from the foods they eat? It won’t happen overnight, and it may even take months and months, but it IS possible to get kids to eat healthier. Check out these 10 tips below for ways to get your kids on the right track!
1. Let them help plan meals – Whether it’s one meal every two weeks or every single night, ask for their input. Let them search online for cool recipes, check out recipe books from the library, or copy their favorite restaurant dish. Kids love to be in charge, and letting them help plan meals is a way to get them involved with eating healthier.
2. Get them involved with grocery shopping – Let them hold the list in the store, get produce off the shelves, weigh items out, bag them up, put them in the cart, etc. The more they touch, hold, feel and smell those foods, the more likely they are to be open to eating them. Make it into a game for them and see if they can identify the veggies on the shelves as you call out their names. Explain the differences between green peppers and red peppers to them. (Check out my grocery store bingo cards for more ideas!)
3. Let them help cook – Getting kids involved in meal preparation makes new foods less scary. If they’ve already washed it, cut it up, cooked it and seasoned it, they are way more likely to eat it. Odds are, they’ll encourage siblings and other family members to eat it as well, as they’ll be so proud of what they have made. Even young children can help do things like measure ingredients and wash produce. Play up the fact they they are the “chef” for the evening, and don’t forget to let them help serve the dish they prepared too!
4. Read books and watch movies about healthy eating – Stop by the library and pick up books and movies about kids eating delicious vegetables. Children love to copy other children, one of my youngest daughter’s favorite movies to watch is Copy Kids, it’s full of children of all ages eating a variety of fresh, healthy veggies.
5. Start a mini garden – Children love to plant things and watch them sprout and grow. Growing simple things like herbs that you can add into healthy dishes is a great way to get kids interested. Parsley and basil are super easy to grow, and can be incorporated into pretty much any dish. Micro greens (baby lettuce) grow quickly and easily as well, and can be harvested by clipping with a pair of kid scissors. You don’t even need a yard, you can grow in small pots or window boxes.
6. Go for a farm visit – Going on a mini “field trip” to a local farm is an awesome way to get kids excited about healthy foods. They can see exactly where eggs, milk, honey, veggies, and more come from, and maybe even bring some produce home! Check out sites like Local Harvest for farms nearby where you live.
7. Sneak in veggies – Pureeing veggies and adding them into sauces, soups, bakes, etc. is a great way to sneak them into your child’s diet. This is perfect for older kids that refuse to try anything new. Just don’t tell them they are in there!
8. Dip ’em – What kid doesn’t love dipping things into different sauces and dips? Get some different containers and a variety of dips like yogurt, ranch dressing, even ketchup, whatever you think your little one would enjoy! You could also get some cute mini metal cookie cutters to cut the veggies if you have time, or let them do it themselves!
9. Use dessert as a bribe – While I am not a fan of the bribe, my daughter’s counselor once said to me, “if you get the desired result you want in the end, why does it matter how you got it?” I guess it makes sense in a way, so if you really want to get your kids to eat healthy and they won’t, offer them a bribe of some sort, like dessert. Of course, I wouldn’t advise doing that every time, but if you need some help getting them to at least try things, that may be an option for you.
10. Lead by example – You certainly can’t expect your children to eat healthy if you don’t as the parent. That doesn’t mean you have to eat like a saint 100% of the time, but they need to see you eating good stuff at meal time too! Don’t load your kid up with veggies and then eat a leftover piece of birthday cake because you really aren’t that hungry. Make sure your diet reflects what you want them to eat, and talk about how delicious your food it at the dinner table!