We’ve all been there. You know your kids need to eat healthy, but all they want are chicken nuggets and grilled cheese. I feel your pain!
I have learned a few tricks recently. They aren’t fool proof, but they have a pretty good track record.
Let Your Kids Help Cook
Just last night my daughter decided she wanted to make dessert.
Of course, I figured that meant that she wanted to make chocolate chip cookies. I was surprised when I took her to the store she started picking up fruit.
The dessert she came up with was actually really healthy. She bough a container of vanilla yogurt, strawberries, a bunch of bananas, blueberries, clementine oranges and tomatoes.
When we got home she cut up the strawberries and half of a banana into bite sized pieces. She then added them to a bowl of blueberries and clementine oranges wedges. (I was able to talk her into putting the tomatoes into our dinner salad.) She then spooned several big scoops of the yogurt on top of the fruit and stirred it up.
It tasted great!
The best part was that they both decided it was better than any ice cream they had ever had and promptly turned around and had thirds!
She also helped make a wonderful salad! I love when they enjoy eating healthy.
Grow Your Own Fruits and Veggies
My kids love to grow their own food.
They get so excited to pick something they grew and eat it. At our house grape tomatoes are a favorite!
We have a huge grape tomato plant that we planted last year. I would love to tell you stories of how we use them in salads and how I take them to work to snack on... but the truth is, the kids normally eat them faster than we can get them picked.
What a great problem to have!
Luckily, they learned to wait for them to turn red, but once they are red they get eaten. My little 3 year old calls them ‘red grapes’ and eats them by the handful.
Offer Healthy Foods
If your kid refuses to eat healthy, remove all other options.
Give your child his/her dinner and don't argue with them.
Normally I try to make sure there is a piece of fruit or something that they will like included in the dinner.
Here is the hard part... Don’t make your child eat it. Don’t even mention that they have to. Just give it to them with no other option (be sure to clean out the temptations from your pantry as well). It’s really hard to not say anything. Make sure you prepare yourself with lots of talking points.
Your kiddo might eat it...they might not.
Keep in mind that it isn’t your problem. I know, it sounds mean. After all, they have to eat right?
Trust me. They may not eat this meal. They may not eat all day if they are super stubborn (like one of my kids), but eventually they will be hungry and they will eat. Your child is not going to die because he/she didn’t get to eat chicken nuggets today.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever give them fun food. For example: We love to take our kids out to eat at Chick-fil-a once a week. They love the nuggets! What you may notice if you ever see us at Chick-fil-a is that my kids don’t like french fries anymore. They don’t even order them. They buy their grilled nuggets and substitute fries for fruit. That might not seem like a lot, but for a 3 and 5 year old it really is.
We don’t make them make that choice. It is totally up to them. They have begun making wise choices and I couldn’t be more proud of them.
Present It, They’ll Eat It
When asked, I would bet that most kids would tell you they would rather have cookies, cupcakes, and candy for a snack.
However, experience tells me that when offered fruit as an option and not a requirement most kids will choose fruit.
A few years ago while I was teaching first grade my room moms would always bring in a ton of sweet goodies for Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day parties. The amount they brought was disgusting. Each kid would end up with a couple of cupcakes and cookies each and at least one goody bag stuffed with candy. Then the moms would give them a couple of “juice” boxes, which were normally some kind of fruit punch, to wash it down.
I couldn’t believe these moms fed this stuff to their kids, but I was a new teacher and not a mom yet. What did I know, right?
One year I had a mom that brought in a huge tray of pre-cut fruit, a fruit pizza and actual fruit juice instead of fruit punch.
My original reaction was, “Good, there will be something good for me to eat. There is no way these kids are going to eat all of that fruit.” It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I was totally wrong! My eyes were opened that day!
Those kids completely wiped out the fruit tray and fruit pizza and left me with the ridiculously overly frosted sugar cookies another mom had brought. Needless to say, I didn’t snack much that day, but I did learn a valuable lesson.
Since then I have learned that kids really do love fruit more than us adults give them credit.
From then on, I always encouraged my room moms to provide a fruit tray for parties. Every year they are finished off before the sweets.
Give it a try.
Set a bowl of grapes, strawberries, blue berries, bananas, etc out on your table.
Don’t tell them they have to eat it, don’t tell them anything just set them there.
Now sit back and watch them wipe them out.
I hope these ideas help you. Keep with it. Depending on how long your kids have been getting away with eating junk this might take a while, but it will work eventually.
Vegetables are a little trickier. How do you get your kids to eat veggies? Outside of carrots with Ranch, grape tomatoes and plain ice burg lettuce with Ranch, I’m at a loss.
I would love your feedback. Shoot me an email at EveryDayLearningAtHome@gmail.com with your ideas. If your idea works with my two kiddos your idea will be featured in a future post.