Every parent wants to know how kids can eat healthier. Some kids would subsist purely on pizza and chicken nuggets if they could. Parents, however, know the importance of good nutrition. We should all aim to strike a balance by eating at least five fruits and veggies a day. Getting these nutritious foods into your kids can be a different story. If your kids balk at the idea of steamed broccoli, try a few different fruit and veggie techniques to see which methods work best for your family.
Throw some frozen fruits — and maybe even a few veggies — into the blender with a liquid base like juice or soy milk. Fruits and vegetables suddenly become a milkshake! This can be a great way for your kids to get some leafy greens into their system. To really hide spinach or kale, blend them together with the liquid first, then stop to add the other frozen fruits. Bananas typically mask the taste of stronger vegetables.
Five fruits and vegetables a day may seem daunting to young minds, so try splitting it up. If your child is eating three main meals, along with two snacks, this means that you’ll only need to have one fruit or veggie at each meal. This might be bananas on top of the morning cereal and baby carrots to dip in hummus for an afternoon snack. Even if your child doesn’t always eat the healthy food, it’s smart to serve it each time, creating an idea that we always eat a fruit or vegetable with a meal.
Some kids respond really well to having some input in the food decisions. If you have them go to the store with you and pick out which vegetables or fruits they’d like to try, you may get more enthusiastic eaters later on. Asking for help in food preparation can also improve buy-in when it comes to eating healthy. Very young children can tear and wash lettuce, or slice soft fruits like strawberries. Older children can cut carrots or peel potatoes.
Some kids will balk at the sight of a vegetable, but this doesn’t mean the kids won’t eat them if they don’t know their there. A technique made famous by the cookbooks “Sneaky Chef” and “Deceptively Delicious” is to puree fruits and vegetables and sneak them into the foods your kids already love. A pureed spinach will hide well in brownies or meatballs, and you can add pureed carrots to spaghetti sauce and macaroni and cheese. Your kids likely won’t even notice the difference.
Though you want your children to eat healthy foods, it’s important to not push the issue too much. This creates negative associations with healthy foods. Instead, consider starting a “no thank you bite” rule. With this rule, the child has to take one bite of a new food, and if she doesn’t like it, she can simply say, “No, thank you” to the rest of the serving. Some experts say that it could take several tries of a new food before a child will decide she actually likes it.
Getting your kids to eat healthy foods can seem like an uphill battle at times, but when you simply keep trying without making a big deal out of it, the kids will eventually come around.