I don’t trick or force my kids into eating anything because I don’t think it will achieve much in the long run. My goals for diet and health are much more far reaching than the immediate dinner on the table! I want to offer my kids a sense of enjoying healthy foods for their own sake. I obviously don’t know how this plan will work out because my oldest is only four, but it seems to be going well so far. Here are some simple ideas:
1. Eat vegetables yourself, and at least act like you enjoy them. If vegetables on the table are a totally normal part of life it will be normal for your kids to eat them.
2. Don’t push it and rotate favorites. There is only one invitation my son needs to refuse something: me really wanting him to eat it. He is generally a healthy eater but loves to ensure that he is in charge of the situation. I ask him to at least try a tiny taste of something if it is new. If he refuses something (even if I know he likes it) I don’t push it. I also keep Ben’s favorites on rotation. No matter how much he likes something, if I offer it too often he gets tired of it. Give it a week off and he’ll actually be excited about broccoli.
3. Think outside your own tastes. I sometimes don’t even think to buy let alone promote vegetables that I don’t enjoy much myself. Thankfully my husband and I have different tastes or else I would have never discovered that my son loves roasted brussels sprouts. (I have since discovered that I like them too, thanks Mo!)
4. Find out what kind of flavor profile your kid likes and go with it. My son likes salty crunchy, but not too crunchy. That means he loves roasted sweet potato “fries” but hates raw carrot sticks. He has also started to love dipping cucumber spears in tehina mixed with soy sauce and a little lemon juice. Salty crunchy!
5. Have fun! Kids really love playful food. I read an article a while back about a study that discovered that young children will eat a greater and more healthful variety of foods if they are presented with small portions of several different colorful foods. The good news is that colorful fruits and veggies mean lots of nutrition, and it doesn’t have to require a lot of prep. I bought a few colorful plates with small sections, and I put out small quantities of a few different foods.
Here are some easy, kid pleasing ideas to get you started!
- cut up chicken, sliced apples and cucumbers, humus for dipping
- eggs scrambled with spinach and cheese, small pieces of lox, triangles of sprouted bread toast
- frozen blueberries, mini whole wheat pancakes, cheese cubes
- edamame (or black beans or chickpeas)
- a spoonful of peanut (or any other nut/seed butter)
- plain kefir mixed with honey or maple syrup in a fun straw cup
- smoothies! fruit + veggies like cucumbers or spinach + a little almond milk or yogurt = healthy and delicious
- rice cake faces
These are just a few quick ideas, what are some ways you have found to get your kids excited about fruits and veggies?