How To Get Kids To Start Eating Healthy
If you’re like most moms, you know your kids should eat healthy foods (these three being the best foods for kids!) but let’s be honest: convincing a screaming three year old to eat her boiled broccoli is pretty much the cause of a tall glass of wine! It’s mind numbing. And yet, it can be done. You can most definitely get your kids to start eating healthy food it just takes some thought.
Outside of the food crazies like myself, most typical kids live off of cereal, noodles, chicken fingers and fruit. Vegetables are mostly out of the questions and everything else is a fight in itself.
And I get it. Rationalizing with a toddler is hell.
But it still comes down to the fact that kids need quality nutrients.
Sure, they won’t be hungry on that kind of food. They’re still eating. But their bodies, their focus won’t be thriving.
Basically, the nutrient tank is running on empty, but the calorie tank is full.
So how the hell do you convince kids to start eating healthy food like kale (here’s a trick to prepare it fyi). The way you do most things with kids: use trickery.
I’m aware that this sounds terrible (I accept that). However, unless your children have grown up eating healthy food consistently (in which case it’s second nature), chances are you’re not going to convince them with logic (the little one below is an exception to all rules ;P )
I wrote a whole blog post on How To Hide Veggies So Your Kids Will Eat Them and that is still undeniably the way to go!
But getting your kids to start eating healthy encompasses a bit more than hiding some zucchini in muffins.
Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
The biggest part of getting kids to eat healthy food actually has nothing to do with kids and everything to do with parents (sorry mamas!).
First things first: you’re going to have to learn and put a bit of effort into cooking/baking.
I’m sorry it sucks. Truly. But the more you make yourself the better off your kids will be. Make it in bulk, freeze it (I keep a stash of frozen energy balls, muffins and pancakes!) and grab it when you need it. Homemade is almost always best.
The flip side of this double edge coin is that you yourself may have to make some changes.
This is where my hubby struggles the most now that my toddler understands what’s going on. He wants our girls to be healthy, keep an awesome immune system and stay fueled… but he lives off of chips and pizza.
If you’re habits aren’t healthy, it’s hard to expect your kids habits to be better.
Now, for those of you who have nailed your own habits and simply have picky kids or kids who won’t eat healthy foods on their own, here’s to get your kids eating healthy …
I always like to put this one at the top because it is so freaking easy. Smoothies are the best busy moms healthy hack to start eating healthy.
Toss things into a blender, make it taste good and voila. Kid intakes a ton of nutrients. You can learn more about introducing smoothies to toddlers and building a better green shake but the reason I love the smoothie route is because you can make the smoothies as sweet as you need to depending on your kids preference.
Psst. Grab one of those smoothie pouches here!
They’re far more likely to love the smoothie if it tastes super sweet like a milk shake (fyi: fruit is natures candy folks!)
If you don’t have one, a Vitamix is the best tool you’ll ever come across. It allows you to make things creamy and not have a smoothie you’re half chewing 😛
Make Food Fun
No one wants to munch on strict celery. No one. But it’s a bit more fun when you make “celery boats” with sunbutter and topped with raisins and coconut!
Likewise, making silly smiley face or fruit skewers seems so silly to us but kids love it. If you’re like me at all, you’re not a Pinterest mom, but even I can stab fruit onto a stick 😛
Make Better Renditions Of Foods They Like
Getting kids to start eating healthy isn’t all about increasing their veggie intake but looking at the bigger picture.
If your toddler adores pancakes, instead of making nutrient-void boxed pancakes, find a healthier recipe to whip up (like these pumpkin pancakes). The same goes with cookies or snack bars. Do you know how much crap I can shove into a cookie?! Check out these trail mix cookies!
Healthy eating involves keeping a healthy fat intake (nuts, seeds, flax, chia etc.) to help kids brains develop and to keep them full. It means eliminating nutrient dense foods (like store bought cookies) and replacing them with a healthier alternative.
Yes, this takes more work. But it also helps shift your kids taste buds to not crave copious amounts of sugar all the time.
Make Better Tasting Veggies
I’ve yet to meet someone who likes to eat boiled brussels sprouts. They’re nasty. But crispy roasted brussels sprouts coated in a candied balsamic vinegar is super tasty.
Try your hand at making veggies interesting. Be it a new sauce they can dip them into, a different way to prepare them (like roasting with sea salt) or cooked into something.
You’ll have to get creative and step outside your go-to for this one because it’s rare that kids are just going to start eating boiled, frozen vegetables.
Get Them To Help You
Another one that sounds simple but makes a big difference. If a toddler helps with something, they’re normally more inclined to eat it.
Let them help you toss veggies in olive oil, sprinkle seat salt or whisk eggs. It makes a big difference in their little worlds.
Reduce The Sugar
If there is one thing, I could scream its how detrimental sugar is to a kid’s health and brain function.
Part of the problem though is it’s not sugar from candy that’s the issue (that is an issue, but most parents don’t give their kids candy all day every day:P). It’s sugar we don’t think of.
It’s sugars in cereal (no matter what “healthy” version you get), in packaged granola bars, in store bought muffins, etc. It’s the sugar they consume every single day that we overlook because those things are marketed to kids.
Cut out the sugar (not even cut out! Just reduce!) and swap those things with healthier alternatives. Chilled tea for juice, homemade for store bought etc. and you’ll have made your babes so much healthier for it.
Like I mentioned, it’s not easy. Getting kids to start eating healthy is hard work. But it’s doable. Take it one step a time, focus on one area at a time (breakfast options etc.) and you’ll get there.
Kids won’t magically develop a love of vegetables unless sugar is reduced, and you work slowly to shift their taste buds.
You got this mamas, go rock it xx