It’s no secret that kids can be some of the pickiest eaters in the freaking universe. As a parent it can be like pulling teeth just to get them to eat their veggies and makes dinner time dreaded instead of the joyful social time for families to catch up on what happened that day.
There is hope for those picky pint sized humans.
Whether you are starting them young, or dealing with a teenager, there are ways to get them to eat healthy. Even if it’s only part of the time.
1. Be a good role model
You’ve heard the term “Monkey See, Monkey Do”, right? Same thing goes for kids. As the parent (or role model) they look to you first to see what you are doing. If you are eating a big fat cheeseburger with fries yet expect them to eat their broccoli, can you blame them for wanting to eat their cheeseburger instead?
By showing them that you are willing to eat what you are wanting them to eat, it will bring about a bit more curiosity and acceptance to giving what you put in front of them a try.
2. Keep it fun
If eating time is stressful and negative, it put a huge damper on this time. Eating is meant to be a fun and social time. Keeping the vibe at the table upbeat and positive, it allows them to relax a bit more. Of course, there are still rules that they need to eat their food, but by keeping it an enjoyable time, it’s up to them to join in or not.
3. Dont’ keep junk in the house
If you don’t want them to eat it, don’t buy it and keep it in the house. They can’t eat it if it’s not available. Instead they will opt for something that is available and fast.
4. Pre-cut snacks
Pre-cut things like apples, carrots, peaches, celery, strawberries, etc. and put them in convenient ziplock bags in the fridge at eye level. Next time they open up the fridge and don’t see their preferred junk food, but instead see ready prepared simple fruits and veggies ready for them to eat, they are more likely to just go ahead and grab them instead.
5. Keep the food simple
Kids like simple foods. Try giving your picky eater something simple, whole and raw. [Most] kids prefer raw foods and if you give it to them straight from nature they are more likely to eat it. The bright colors are very attractive to them and the simple flavors satisfies their tastebuds.
6. Get your kids involved
Make your food preparation time something the kids can help with. Give them little jobs that they can do that will give them that sense of pride and accomplishment. When they help make it, the pride that they feel in the work that they have done, gets them much more likely to eat it. Tell them how proud you are of them for making such beautiful food and show them how much you like it by eating it yourself. It’s like they’ve been rewarded for their hard work. (You get the same feeling when the family enjoys the dinner you made them.)
7. Blend it!
Kids love smoothies! Let your little one help you make it. Even if it’s just dropping the food into the blender (while it’s off). You can make green smoothies by making a fruit smoothie and adding a handful of spinach to it for added nutrition. If your kids are turned off by the green color, add mixed berries to it to turn it purple or put it in a solid colored cup with a straw so they can’t see it.
8. BONUS TIP: “I don’t like it” is not the final response.
You may have heard it over and over (and over) that they “don’t like it”. That phrase has never held it much ground for me. Okay, I get it, we eat with our eyes first and if you don’t like the looks of something your first reaction is to not want to even try it. When my kids tell me they don’t like it, I always answer back with the questions “Have you tried it?”. If the answer is no, then I reply with “How do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it?”. That usually opens them up to asking that to themselves, making them think about the real reason why they “don’t like it”.
In my experience, there is a 50/50 chance that from there, they will be more likely to at least try it.
Do you have any tips you’d like to add that have worked for you?