So many of my clients have kids. I hear over and over again from parents how hard it is to stick to their healthy eating plan when they have kids.  They enter meal times with the best intentions to cook themselves a healthy nutritious meal after they have fed the kids and, of course, this never happens and they end up eating whatever their kids are having instead. As most kids are picky eaters, this meal usually takes parents off their Nutrition Plan.

So this blog has double the reason to read: 1) You will, hopefully, get your kids eating healthy meals, 2) You will be able to still eat what they do but now it's guilt free.

The following tips, I collected from real life "healthy " Mom's and some tricks and tips from my own Mom and Nan, who always made sure I ate my veggies.
1. Let the kids help with planning and shopping. As a weekend activity, go online (I love Pinterest for this) with your kids or sit down together with healthy cookbooks and magazines. Allow them to them pick out some healthy recipes they would like to make and then go shopping for the ingredients with their list.  This way they feel like they are in charge of what they are eating and become more responsible for the end result. They will, therefore, be more likely to enjoy healthy eating. It is not always practical, but a weekend shopping trip may inspire them enough for the whole week.

2. Kid-Created Recipe Cards. From the selections your kids make in no.1, collect the pictures and recipes so you can create and compile Recipe Cards.  Ask them to go through and rate the meals according to how much they liked eating them with colorful stickers.  Soon they will have created their own healthy recipe book. You can use this as a tool, offering them a choice of meals from something they have created, again allowing them to feel in control of their choices and more likely to enjoy what they eat.

3. Make foods that will attract kids. What tastes better; a normal round pancake or a Micky Mouse shaped pancake? Adding a smily face or turning a healthy snack into an animal is always a winner. This is also a great tactic for limiting the amount of choc chips, cookie chunks, or chips you add to the dish too. Here are some of my favorites:
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Animal Energy Balls
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Rainbow Pizza
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Caterpillar Grapes
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Building Bloc Fruit Salad


4. Invest in a dehydrator. Kids love small snack foods. With a dehydrator you can make chips from apple, beet, carrot, parsnip, apricot, blueberries and many more healthy fruits and veg. This way you can ensure that the snack you are giving your kids is preservative free. It is also great for making homemade yogurt, granola, fruit roll ups or healthy salmon & beef jerky, even healthy treats for your pets.

5. Open a restaurant. This is one thing I used to do with my Nan when I stayed with her at the weekend (not surprising then that I went on to own a chain of restaurants - go figure). Buy cute little aprons, chef hats and a chalkboard so they can write or draw a menu, buy kid sized utensils and hey presto! You have your very own restaurant. I love this idea because even if your kid does not go on to a future in the restaurant trade they will certainly learn to understand the process of choosing from the menu, taking orders and waiting for the food to arrive, so they are better prepared in a real restaurant and ,hopefully, better behaved.

6. The 2 Bite Rule. As my clients will tell you, I am a great believer in the theory that the anticipation of doing something is often worse than actually doing it. For this reason, I like to use the 2 bite rule when getting anyone, even adults, to try a new food. The first bite they will, for sure, twist their face and say they don't like it. At the second bite they will have overcome some of the nervous anticipation of trying something new and you may even get them to take more bites from there. I always keep at it, and re introduce the new healthy item the next day so that they get used to it quickly and without too much fuss.

7. Roast your veggies. When we are young we have a much "sweeter palate" - this is why it is often difficult to get kids to want anything other than candy.  You may have noticed that if you roast your vegetables, they take on a sweeter taste. I love roasting cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and peppers. Firm favorites with kids are always sweet potato and carrots. 

8. Plant a garden. Having a garden is a great way to get kids interested in, not only healthier foods but in learning about where their food comes from. Food from your own garden is packed with more flavor and children love getting their hands dirty picking their meals straight from their own garden too. Check out this TED Talk by a passionate and animated school teacher from an inner city school in the South Bronx, where he and his kids grow lush gardens for food, greenery and are now providing jobs. 

9. Choose a "Try It" food. Every time you go shopping with the kids, pick a "Try It" food. Guide your child when at the market, allowing them to pick one item from the outer isles of the store, (which is where the fresh produce is usually kept) keeping them away from the inner isles (which is where all the packaged and processed food is kept). As long as you stick to a No Junk Food rule, then your child gets something that they would not normally have, as a treat, and expand their food preferences as a result.

10. Make a shake. Kids love shakes and it is so much easier to get kids to drink their nutrients than it is to get them to sit down and eat a full meal. Make delicious smoothies with berries, yogurt, flaxseed and you can also sneak in vegetables too. Kale and spinach go well in shakes. If you have left overs, you can always freeze them into healthy popsicles too.
Hopefully implementing some of these tips will help you get your kids, not only taking in more nutrient dense food but also building the repertoire of what they have in their diet and interested in food and nutrition. You can never start too early when it comes to taking responsibility for your health and well being. Plus, a great side effect, is you as a parent can stick to a healthy eating plan with out having to make different dishes for kids and adults. Who knows with these tips you may find yourself better fueled so that you can better parent your kids - What could be more rewarding than that?!

 


Comments

09/26/2012 8:42am

Good advice on how to persuade children to eat. I will try with your kids.

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12/11/2012 2:41am

One of the best ways to connect to a healthy life and healthy food.

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03/09/2013 12:31am

I am looking such kind of article because at the growing age kids are not eating healthy foods but the key point you mention really give me an idea how to give healthy diet.

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06/13/2013 9:30pm

If you are on a diet, please be sure that you're going to eat healthy for sure.. that's just how it is then if you do have self-discipline.

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06/13/2013 10:27pm

actually we can also order some healthy foods online if we are just so tired and busy from our work and we don't have time anymore to go out and go shopping.

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07/08/2013 2:59am

Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips to make children eat healthy food. I do agree with you that, making attractive food are a good way to add balance and healthy food to their diet. I do appreciate your efforts in keeping this blog alive and updated.

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09/24/2013 12:27am

When you decide to go backpacking, you must put together a food plan. You will want to pack healthy foods so that your body has enough energy to reach your destination and return again safely.

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10/06/2013 7:18am

Very good and useful information. Why not write a book about this topic.For today’s economic fluctuation and lack of opportunities, it really will be a very hot topic. Thanks anyway. All the best.

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10/26/2013 9:51am

I really like this post. It is very interesting topic and the author is really clever and broadminded person. I would like to read another post this author with great pleasure.

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12/21/2013 6:54am

Very good and useful information. It contains truly information. Post is so well written that I cannot believe it. I really like this post.

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