We all know how important it is for us to eat healthy. The awareness of food and the direct relation to our health has been in the mainstream media for years now. What about our children though? With pediatric obesity rates rising, lets talk about how to get our kids to eat healthier by introducing them to the fun side of healthy food!
I have been devoted to making health fun for kids for years now. I started with my own boys (5 and 2.5 years), and what I have found over the years is that getting kids to eat healthy has to be FUN! I will take my boys to the store and have them pick out whatever fruit or vegetable they want. Sometimes it is new and sometimes it isn't, but the key is they have a hand in what they eat. This helps them to feel connected and excited about trying new things. With all new foods I introduce, I let them see it before being cooked and after. I let them touch it, smell it, laugh at it...whatever gets them to have fun and not be scared to try it.
Lead by example. You can't encourage your kids eat their veggies if you aren't! Start out by making some of your favorite vegetable dishes and introduce it to them. When they see you and other role models eating healthy, they will be more inclined to follow your lead. My 5 year old is o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d. with mushrooms. He LOVES them. I didn't put any on his plate for years because what kid loves mushrooms? I assumed that because I didn't like them at 5 neither would he, I was completely wrong. He tried some from our plate a few years back and has been a big fan ever since. My 2.5 year old is crazy about broccoli. That's right, broccoli. No cheese, no sauce, just steamed broccoli. He could eat a bowlful he loves it that much. With him, it was another situation where he tried some off our plate and couldn't stop eating it. The moral of the story? Be the example and have them try everything. Don't assume they won't like it, they may just surprise you!
Don't give up! It takes a few tries to like something new. Keep serving it and encourage them to try a bite. If they don't like it the first time around, make it a different way next time but keep trying! It's important they know they don't have to like everything but should be encouraged to try everything. With a little patience and persistence, you can inspire healthy eating habits. The earlier health is encouraged, the better chance they carry this mindset into adulthood.
Lastly, make it taste good! Who wants to eat anything that tastes badly--healthy or not? No, life is too short for bland food! The best way to get kids to eat healthy is to make it taste good! In our house, we drink smoothies everyday with our lunch. Our smoothies are packed with healthy ingredients yet still taste like a treat. The key with kids is to have smoothies that have a good balance of sweet (naturally occurring of course..) and veggies. When starting out keep the ratio 3:1 fruits and vegetables. Slowly add more vegetables (greens) and they can work their way up to 2:1 or even 1:1. I also recommend smoothies have fun names! My sons used to call our green smoothies "Hulk" smoothies because they were green and they will be big and strong like Hulk from drinking them. Giving them a name is just another fun way to keep kids interested and excited.
Smoothies are an easy and tasty way to get in the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. I have listed some of my family's go to recipes here for a new series I'm starting: "Kid Approved Smoothies". I will continue to add downloadable PDFs to my shop page, so check back often!
Have fun with health and don't be scared to try new things!
With Health and Happiness,