Have you ever been frustrated by your kids’ tendency to gravitate toward junk food? I know I have!
Given the choice between a Cheeto and a carrot stick, my son will take the Cheeto every time.
Highly palatable food is prevalent in our culture, there’s no getting around it.
But there’s also no getting around the fact that it’s our job to teach our kids to make healthy choices, expose them to the joys of real food, and sometimes, teach them to eat things because they’re good for them, even if they don’t like them.
It’s a seriously tough job sometimes though.
4 Tips To Get Your Kids Eating Real Food
- Limit the junk food that comes into the house. It’s easy to load up on chips and crackers for snacks, but it makes it too easy for kids to skip the vegetables at meal time, and wait until those snacks come out. Try carrot sticks, fruit, and green smoothies instead. You may even be surprised to find your kids like kale chips – because it’s hard to resist a crispy snack – even if it is made from a leafy green vegetable! One of our favorites is tropical green smoothie popsicles. The kids don’t even realize they’re eating kale!For yummy treats that are still healthy, we like to make healthy no-bake treats that seem like junk food, but are full of nutrition.
- Let them help you shop. Obviously, you can’t indulge their every whim, but if they’re out there with their big kid pants on, helping you shop, you’ll be surprised by what they notice, and what they want to try. Recently, my kids went gaga over a dragon fruit. I was surprised, because they’re usually skeptical of funny looking food, but they wanted to try it, took it on as their project to figure out how to cut it up, and they loved it! I swear, it was only because it was their idea, because that particular dragon fruit was honestly not very good.
- Give them bite-sized portions of new food to try.
Have an entire serving of something they’re convinced they won’t like can be overwhelming and cause a meltdown. But letting them know they just need to try a bite, as shown with the spiralized zucchini dish above, can be a game changer with their attitude. It’s also a great opportunity to teach them that sometimes, they just have to eat things they don’t like, and get it over with.
- Serve the veggies before the main dish comes out. If they know they don’t get access to the good stuff until their salad is gone, they’ll be a lot more motivated to eat it. I know this because it’s what my mom did when I was a kid. I remember complaining bitterly about having to eat that salad, but eventually learned that if I wanted food, I had to eat the leaves, and it just because part of life.
Obviously, with all kids there are things that they just can’t stand, and that’s okay too. Everybody has their thing, right?
Garrett can’t stand asparagus, so while I’m mostly a stickler for making them eat what I cook, he doesn’t have to eat asparagus. And I don’t have to eat cantaloupe. Ever, I hope.
But there are going to also be foods that they can stomach, but just don’t like. That’s where you can teach your kids the importance of eating nutritious food for the sake of their bodies, even if it’s not their favorite thing.
Sure, it can take a lot of time to get the concept through to kids, but it’s worth it to raise adults who have learned the ability to put off self gratification, and make the right choice even if it’s not the easiest or tastiest.
Of course, my kids haven’t reached adulthood yet, so we’re just talking theoretically here. 😉 But at almost five and seven years old, I’m pretty proud of my kids’ ability to eat their veggies, and whole food dinners.
This is something you can help your kids learn. It may be hard, but you can do it. I believe in you, and pretty soon, so will your kids.
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