How to Get Your Kids to Eat Anything
As a parent, we want the best for our children and that includes making sure they are eating a well balanced, whole food diet. Our children deserve to be as healthy and nourished as possible (as do we)! But what do you do when your child won’t eat optimally or no longer likes the healthy foods they once enjoyed? Don’t panic! Here are some tips and suggestions to help you on your parenting journey.
First and foremost and I know I say this all the time, but it is so critical for children to see us eating what we want them to eat. If you want your child to eat healthy, more whole foods – not processed or man made – you must be the example and eat it as well. Children will do what you do.
Secondly, give your child a sense of autonomy and allow them to choose between healthy options. This is done with limited choices, however. If you give your child too many options, they will become overwhelmed and not be able to choose at all. It’s best to give max three choices (I personally like to give two). This can be done in the grocery store and/or in the kitchen. Ask your child, “Would you like to enjoy carrots or beans?” Children are just like us in that if they feel like they have a say in their decision, t hey are more likely to follow through.
Thirdly, use food as leverage. This is something I do all the time with my three year old son. If for example, your child likes crackers, serve a few crackers and then before giving more, offer them a vegetable or protein source that optimizes their nutrition and then give them more crackers as soon as they eat say two bites of broccoli.
Photo credit Natasha Grey
Fourthly, make it a game. This is critical in getting kids to eat anything. A game I like to play is “What character matches the food.” To play, have your child name their favourite tv character after the food they just made or you just made. For example, you could make a green smoothie and have them call it the ‘Hulk’s drink’ and I’m the hulk (child being hulk)! Or you could say fun things like “Do you think (insert favourite character’s name) eats cauliflower to give him big, big muscles or cool magic powers?” Planting the seeds of health through games is key to success in the kitchen and in life!
Lastly and most importantly, the goal is to create healthy, nourishing habits early so they are instilled at a young age rather than having to do a ton of work later. Your goal is not to be perfect and have a perfect child who eats perfectly; your goal is to be an empowered parent doing the best you can which is what your child will see and ultimately emulate.
We are all doing the best we can with what we know. Parenting, just like life, is a constant evolution and change will happen everyday so even if your child isn’t eating tomatoes right now, that doesn’t mean he or she won’t tomorrow (and if that happens, be prepared for that to change to)!
First Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/8412940480/
Category: Food, Friday Food Frenzy, Health, Nutrition, Tips, Weekly Themes, Wellness