Getting Kids to Eat Healthy

Copy-Kids Images47

Most people have been raised to believe that there are rules, established guidelines for eating.  Eg. Eat cereal for breakfast, pasta for dinner – not the other way around.  Eat at certain times of day.  (We are the only beings in nature who consult a clock before eating.)  Eat in prescribed places – usually at a table in the kitchen or dining room.

If you are prepared, dear reader, to break out from conventional norms, then you are ready for my #1 tip for getting kids to eat healthy.

1)      Be Flexible!

What does flexibility look like?  It will vary from household to household.  Here is what flexibility looks like in my home:

My 5-year-old took a bath first thing when she woke up today.  I figured out a few years ago that coupling happy bath-time play with a meal was an excellent way to get her to eat more.  First she started with a banana.  Then she asked for a second banana.  Then I set a melamine plate on a low stool next to the tub.  The plate contained red cabbage, cauliflower, celery & a cherry tomato – each in its own compartment, because she doesn’t like things to touch.  And she ate them all.  Yep, veggies for breakfast!

My daughter has never been conditioned that cereal is a breakfast food; we don’t limit our food choices to time of day.  Rigidity says, “Oatmeal for breakfast, spaghetti for dinner.”  Flexibility says the other way around is okay.  It’s okay to embrace flexibility in the service of good nutrition.

A Creative Plate

2)      Get Creative!

Sometimes a story prompt from you is all that is needed to get your child to eat.   “Bunnies love carrots.  There once was a bunny who ate 100 carrots.  Could you eat 100 carrots?”

Bella Pepper Fingers Getting Kids to Eat Healthy

Creativity could include arranging a story scene on a plate.  A sun, a house, a happy-face designed from the pieces of the meal.  You can employ child-friendly dishes & utensils.  Candles on a table at mealtimes can make the meal more appealing & pleasant.

Getting Kids to Eat Healthy - Gabe

Lighten things up… move away from familiar norms of “sit-up-straight, eat-your-food, stop-wiggling, no-talking, chew-with-your-mouth-closed.”  I’m not suggesting that you abandon good manners.  Merely that you make creative efforts to bring joy to the table with optimal nutrition consumption as the prime goal.

Getting Kids to Eat Healthy 4

How do you employ flexibility & creativity to get your kids to eat healthy?