Getting kids to eat a perfectly balanced diet each day is like chasing a unicorn in the Bermuda Triangle. It’s something I hope we all strive for, yet we often fall short. Am I right? If I let them, my girls would exist on chicken nuggets, mac n cheese, and fruit. Can you relate?
Full disclosure, my girls LOVE fruit and will eat it all day if I let them, so I don’t have a battle there (it’s veggies for us). Keeping the sweets at a bare minimum from the get go undoubtedly aided in their love of fruit because their taste buds weren’t dampened from artificial, packaged, fake foods like so many kids (and adults) today. Ask ANY person who has turned to a healthy lifestyle and they will tell you how much better REAL food tastes, once you’ve cut out the processed garbage. I’m mentioning this because it’s super important for everyone. It’s NEVER too late to change your (yes, I’m talking to YOU) eating habits and if you want to foster healthy habits in your kiddos, it starts with you!
Also, keep in mind it can take up to 10 times of trying a new food before we really know whether or not we like it. Don’t be afraid to prepare something differently, try it with a sauce or mixed with something else.
Ready for those tips? Let’s go!
-Water – Kids need water. Juice should NOT be an everyday occurrence. Soda? Never. Seriously. All you’re doing is jacking up their taste buds, filling them with chemical garbage and sugar. It’s NOT a treat.
-Fresh fruit – Let them pick it out at the store & make sure it’s kept at eye level in the fridge or within hands reach on the counter.
-Smoothies – Are a great way to hide all kinds of things! A handful of spinach, sprinkle of flax or chia seeds or a little avocado will go unnoticed! Just don’t let them see you do it. 😉 Let them add in any fruit they like as well.
-Freeze dried/dehydrated snacks – if you don’t own a dehydrator you’re in luck because dehydrated snacks are becoming popular in grocery stores. Read the ingredient label closely…you want nothing more than the fruit or veggie. If there are additives and anything artificial, skip it. Dehydrating IS super easy on your own too.
-Pureeing – Though it takes extra effort on your part, pureeing carrots or dicing cauliflower is a great way to incorporate a veggie. They blend perfectly in spaghetti sauce and lasagna, and I assure you, they won’t taste it! Or make it super easy and buy organic pureed baby(food) carrots! Prunes are a great additive too if your little ones need help with regularity.
-Bribery – Yep. Not even kidding. I often bribe mine with a quarter or two to try something new. 7 out of 10 times, they end up liking it. You have to find the thing that works for your kids whether it’s a couple quarters, extra play time, a sticker on their chart, etc.
-Do NOT be a short order cook. I get that some nights you truly have to pick your battles but most of the time, your kids should be eating what you’re eating.
-2 Bite Rule – they have to take at least two bites of the new food. That’s all I ask. You know your kids best and whether or not you can push them a bit more after that.
-No snacks within an hour of dinner.
-Make something you know they love along with a veggie. Make a deal with them that they will get (their favorite thing) when they eat all of the vegetable. Don’t even put it on their plate until that vegetable is gone!
-Let them use condiments. My weirdos will sometimes dip their broccoli in ketchup *shudder.* Make sure those condiments are CLEAN (No artificial flavors, preservative filled ranch dressing or ketchup. Spring for the non-gmo and organic if you can.)
-Slowly switch to whole grains. Let’s use white rice as an example. If you make a batch, add in a spoonful of brown or jasmine rice. Next time, add in a little more and so on and so forth.
-If you have the world’s pickiest eater, even switching to cleaner, organic foods will be a step in the right direction. At the very least, he won’t be ingesting chemicals and artificial growth hormones.
-Snacks – Check out my Pinterest board for tons of kid (and mom) approved snacks (click here). Mine love to pull out all the fruit and put them on skewers to make fruit kabobs. Whatever works, right?
-As far as after school snacks are concerned, we have a rule. One ‘fun’ or packaged item (like Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies) and then it’s fruit if they are still hungry.
-Stick to your guns. This is one of the best tips I can give you. No child has ever starved from not getting their way. If they are hungry enough, they will eat what you serve. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t put escargot in front of my girls and demand they eat. Nor do I make them lick their plate clean because I want them to learn to be satisfied, not stuffed. If they are begging for more mac n cheese, fine, but that means they have room for a couple more bites of the vegetable too! If they’re truly hungry, they shouldn’t push back.
-Remember that just because YOU may not like a certain food, doesn’t mean they won’t too. Be open to letting them try new things!
-Let them browse Pinterest with you for fun new snacks. Sure, it will take some of your time but it’s SO worth it because before you know it, they’ll be old enough to do it on their own!
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