“Do your kids really eat that?” I get this question ALL the time! My answer…
well, some days yes, and some days no… but hey, even our adult meals aren’t perfect every day, right?
So how do I get my kids to eat raw veggies, eggplant pizza, garlic chicken thighs, green beans cooked in bacon fat, and hard boiled eggs.
Here are 6 tips I try to use to help my kids eat these types of nutritious, whole foods. It may not work the first 10 times, but KEEP trying and soon to them it will become the norm.
I’m the first to admit that I don’t have this parenting thing all figured out, so if you have other advice that works for you and your family, please let me know!
1. Set a good example with what you have on your plate. My kids always want what I have on my plate, even if it’s the same food that they have on their plate. For a quick gut check, consider if you’d be happy if your kids ate what was on your own plate. For example, in the morning when I don’t eat breakfast, I make a shake. The shake has all clean ingredients, so I feel great if my kids want to eat it, and they frequently do! They sometimes drink over half of it!
2. Let them help you prepare the meals. When they get involved in the creation of their meal, they take pride in it and are more likely to eat it. Bake this into your daily routine. Count the green beans you snip. Talk about the colors in your food. Make it fun, crunchy, colorful, juicy food. Those different textures are fun for them to play with and eat!
3. Take them grocery shopping with you. My advice is to stay on the perimeter of the store, otherwise they will see all the sugary and processed foods! When they get to pick out their own food, they have a sense of accomplishment that they picked the most colorful banana or best smelling parsley the store has to offer. Allow your kids to use their senses by smelling and feeling the foods. Get them excited about what is in your cart by telling them WHY it’s good for them. If you don’t know, start to look up the nutrition facts. Knowledge is power, for them and for you!
4. Don’t let them snack for the 2 hours before you sit down for a meal. This is the one we struggle with the most, because when a kid is cranky it’s so easy to give them something quick to eat to appease them. When you do feed them snacks, try to make at least 1 out of 2 of the snacks be a whole food, not processed like a snack bar or cracker. This takes preparation and planning, but something as simple as carrots and hummus, raw nuts and dried fruit or string cheese is whole and good for them and won’t leave them hungry in an hour. If my kids have a natural sugar + carb loaded fig bar (which is sometimes my go-to), almost 100% of the time in one hour they are hungry again because it spiked their blood sugar and dropped them like a rock! I also love to pack my cocoa-nut cookies in my purse for both me and the kids b/c they are loaded with good healthy fats. If your kids sit down hungry to the table, most likely they will eat at least some of what you put in front of them.
5. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition. Your kids may not like broccoli 3 nights out of 4, but that fourth night when their body is in need of some vitamin C they will eat it. Have you ever noticed how some days your kids will eat a ton of protein and other days they won’t touch it? Their bodies at a young age tell them what they need to grow. Some days it is protein, others it is vitamins and minerals. You can start to find a growth cycle if you watch close enough. Especially if you have a toddler, you’ll be able to tell when they are going through a growth spurt by observing their eating patterns. Sometimes by putting natural whole foods in front of our kids they will select what they need, and maybe surprise you!
6. If they don’t eat what you put in front of them, don’t make a separate meal for them. If you do this, then you are training them to ask for different foods of their choice every time. If my kids don’t eat the dinner that is on the table, then they don’t eat. This may sound harsh, but they know this is how it works and don’t expect to get anything other than what they’ve been served.