Are you looking for some new ideas and tips to get your kids to try new food? Do you have a picky eater that refuses to eat their fruits and vegetables? Check out this list of tips to get your kids to eat healthy and try new foods.
Getting your kids to eat healthy can be a struggle! The last thing a busy mom wants to do at the end of the day is be a short order cook! And then after you customize everyone’s meals they still refuse to eat it! Been there? You are not alone!
I have been around my fair share of picky eaters and my husband might be the worst of all! He is a typical farmer and would prefer to eat meat and potatoes for every meal. He really has come a long way since I met him but still won’t touch rice, will only eat chicken in moderation and doesn’t like anything orange on his plate. My oldest is a pretty good eater but even he has a comfort zone and would prefer fruit snacks and crackers for every meal. Sounds familiar?
I have what I would call a very practical approach to healthy eating. I don’t do shakes, pills or fad diets. But if that works for you, great! This post is to help encourage and maybe give you some tips or ideas to help with what I think can be one of the most stressful parts of parenting. My ultimate goal in getting my kids to eat healthy is to develop healthy eating habits that they will carry with them into adulthood.
#1: Set a good example
Research shows there are many benefits to eating together as a family, including better academic performance, higher self-esteem and lower risk of depression. Whether we think about it or not children model their behavior after grownups in their lives. One of the best things you can do for your children in terms of healthy eating it to set a good example. If you aren’t willing to try something why would they? This also includes any “rules” or guidelines you set as a family. If your older kids aren’t allowed to have pop at dinner set the example and pour yourself a glass of milk or water and enjoy the pop at another time.
#2: Let them help
Helping your kids understand where and how food grows will get them excited about eating. This could include visiting a farm or orchard, growing a garden (big or small – container gardening is great for those who don’t have a lot of space), letting them help pick out the food at the grocery store and helping in the kitchen making meals. Yes, it might take longer to make dinner with a little helper but the smile on their face as everyone enjoys their creation is worth every minute!
#3: Make food fun!
Who says dinner can’t be fun? These ideas will have your kids forgetting they are eating their fruits and veggies.
- Taste tester experiment, turn dinner in to an experiment! You can make this as elaborate as you would like. The simple version would have the child comparing the raw version of a food vs. the cooked, i.e. broccoli. Which one did you like better? The more complex version could include analysis on taste, texture, smell, appearance and color. You could even buy them an inexpensive notebook to keep track of their findings.
- For younger kids a fun plate may make all the difference. My favorites are the ones that have different hair styles and the child is encouraged to create a funny face with their food. Instead of saying eat all of your veggies have fun with it and say something like “Are you eating his eyes?!” Giggles all around! You can find the plates, here.
- Make mini size portions. This pan works great to create individual portions which is a simple way to make dinner a little different. This pan works great for meatloaf, casseroles and individual desserts. I also use it to make egg cups or breakfast casserole and pop them in the freezer and pull out as needed.
- Sing a song about trying new foods. Our favorite is Daniel Tiger’s, “Try a new food, it might taste good.” Which is now stuck in my head!
- Create a themed meal. Working on colors? Create meals that include ingredients all of the same color. We did this and had so much fun. You can find out more about our Rainbow Dinner Project, here.
#4: Sneaky Mommy
Casseroles, soups and sauces are a great vehicle to sneak in some extra fruits and veggies. A food processor is a great tool to help puree both fruits and veggies. Cauliflower is an easy and relatively tasteless veggie that can be added to mac n cheese. Zucchini works great in a lot of dessert recipes. This Double Chocolate Zucchini Cake is my favorite way to eat zucchini! Pureed fruit can easily be mixed into pancake or waffle batter. Beans can also be pureed and added to increase the protein in a meal. Click here for some more ideas.
#5: Offer one food at a time
There’s nothing that says that all food needs to be served at the same time. Offer the food at a meal you think will be your child’s least favorite first when they are the most hungry and follow with the rest of the meal. And just because a kid doesn’t eat something one time doesn’t mean they will never eat it. Tastes and attitudes (more attitudes ;)) change daily and it’s always good to offer a food multiple times and multiple ways.
What are your favorite ways to get your kids to eat healthy?
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