I’ve written about eating healthy foods before, and I’m sure I’ll write about it again in the future. Over processed foods are everywhere, and they are heavily advertised to appeal to our kids. Sure, the processed foods are quick and easy, and they can save you in a pinch. However, they are terrible for you and your kids! The problem that we parents have is that when we do cook a healthy meal, our kids usually turn their noses up at it. So how do you we get your kids to eat real, healthy foods?
A friend of mine, Melissa D. McPheeters, has written a great little guide to getting kids to eat the nutritious foods you make. It is called Kids Eat, and it is a quick read that is full of honesty and tips that actually work! I already incorporate most of her tips into our meal times, which is awesome! But I also have a few more tricks/tips I’d like to add. Here are my tips for getting your kids to eat what you make.
1. The No Thank You Bite
I use the crockpot a lot. We are busy, and it is a fabulous tool that allows me to cook a nutritious meal without much effort. However, when food comes out of a crockpot, it is all mixed together, and that can be weird looking for kids. I always give them a serving and I make them take a “no thank you bite”. The purpose of this is to make the kid try it, but then also give them the opportunity to tell me they don’t like it. If they don’t like it, I don’t make them eat it anymore, but I thank them for trying.
Here’s the kicker though, many kids won’t actually taste one bite. They swallow it so quickly that they don’t give it a real chance. So, my rule is that you have to take as many bites as you are old before you can tell me you don’t want anymore. So my 5yo has to take 5 bites before he can tell me no thank you, and my 8yo takes 8.
I do make an exception for foods that they clearly HATE. For example, my 8yo cannot eat mashed potatoes. They literally make him gag when he puts them in his mouth. But since taste buds change and develop as you grow, every once in a while I will serve them to him. If he takes one bite and gags, I don’t make him take all 8. On the other hand, let’s say we have broccoli, and it’s not his favorite, but he can still eat it, so I make him take all 8 bites.
2. Present a Diverse Plate
When serving up a meal, I don’t just put one thing on my kids’ plates. I give them a variety of foods. There is the main meal, if that doesn’t have veggies in it I give a side of veggies, some fruit, and sometimes a starch (tortilla shells or chips with tacos, homemade fries with burgers, etc.). So, if after they take their “no thank you bites” of their main meal, they still have several other things on their plates for them to take “no thank you bites” from, or eat completely.
By presenting them with a variety of foods to try, you can expand their pallet as well as easily tell them that THIS is what is for dinner. Many parents will go out of their way to make another meal for their kids, but to be honest, that’s not doing them any favors. Kids will always choose junk over nutritious foods, so put a variety of nutritious foods on their plates, and they will eat something.
3. Let Them Pick The Veggies
I have started a new thing with my kids. When we go to the grocery store I let them pick out a new veggie and fruit to try. I don’t buy a lot of it, just enough to try. Then I find a recipe for the best way to serve it, and we have it for dinner that night. This “game” has gotten them excited about trying new foods. It has also introduced us to some veggies I wouldn’t have normally bought. Some taste tests were a bust, but others have now been added to our regular grocery list. When you get your kids involved in the decision process, they feel more in control, and are willing to try what THEY have picked.