We want our kids to make healthy food choices, but the day-to-day reality of teaching them to do this can be a challenge. There are lots of healthy recipes and ideas out there for kids, yet they are often drawn to less healthy options. Here are a few parenting strategies that can help:
- Offer them a fruit or veggie snack before they are starving hungry. [See video of a healthy snack drop off while the kids are playing!]
- Let them to have that special snack they want if they also eat a fruit or veggie.
- Have them pick out three fruits and three veggies that they like at the grocery store. They are more likely to want to eat them if they have ownership!
- Tell them they don’t have to eat everything on their plate, but if they want dessert they need to eat their meat/protein and their vegetables.
- Offer them two different choices of fruit for a snack and let them pick.
- Let them choose which vegetable side will be served with dinner.
- Spice up fruits and veggies with dips and toppings – e.g. ranch dressing for carrot sticks, peanut butter on apples, whipped cream on bananas.
Try growing your own fruits and vegetables together! Kids will be more excited about eating something they have helped grow in the garden!
- Eat fruits and veggies yourself! If you sit down with a plate of fruits or veggies, young kids are bound to come over and want some of what you are having.
- Create something fun from a healthy snack – e.g. spell their name out with different fruits or veggies! [There are tons of ideas on Pinterest, here's a Parenting Owl Board called Fun Food]
- Play a game where your child chooses one thing that will be part of a snack and you choose one thing. Make the most of this game by extending it to activities – your child chooses what to do for 10 minutes (play together), then you choose what to do for 10 minutes (clean up!) and keep alternating.
- Make a trail of fruits or veggies that lead to a surprise treat hiding under a cup or bowl! It could be something like a fruit flower or a special treat.
- Ask your child to choose when they will eat different snacks throughout the day including some fruits or veggies, then have them stick to the plan!
- Have a family food challenge where everybody tries a different type of food they have never had before! Create your own rules – e.g. One new food per day and you have to try at least three bites.
- Challenge your children to play each other in ‘Whatever You Can Eat I Can Eat Too’ where each child chooses three foods that they will eat at least three bites of and that their sibling has to eat too! Tap into their competitive side and offer prizes to the winner or to all successful participants!
- See how many different color foods you can eat together in a meal or a day!
- Set up a chart where your child gets a sticker for each vegetable serving he or she eats and let them earn something fun at the end! [Read more about using Reward Charts]
- Let your child help cook meals, including a vegetable side. Sometimes kids are more excited to eat a salad that they helped make!
- Create a food journal with your child that has pictures of different foods you try together. Look for new and different fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.
- Make an alphabet book with fruits and vegetables from A to Z! Cut and past or draw pictures and try everything that you put in your book!
Remember, whenever your child happens to choose a fruit or vegetable be sure to reinforce that choice by telling them how strong and healthy that food will help them grow! Have any other great strategies for getting kids excited about eating more fruits and veggies? Please add a comment and share them! Also, here is a great article with kid-friendly healthy snack ideas: Parenting.com 20 Best Snacks for Kids
Happy Healthy Eating!