Do you want to know how to get kids to eat healthy, nutritious meals? Don’t we all! Getting kids to even TRY healthy foods, particularly vegetables, can be a trial. Wouldn’t it be great if they were excited about eating healthy food? Have a read for some ideas to make this happen.
Get them cooking – Kids get much more excited about healthy food if it’s something they cooked themselves. Start young kids out with topping a pizza, and then move on to more adventurous cooking once they can safely handle a knife. Remember, the more responsibility they have, the more they’ll be excited to eat it. Let them make choices!
Start a kitchen garden – Growing food is very exciting. The suspense in waiting for the vegetables and herbs to be ready means that kids will be so proud to eat the foods they’ve nurtured from a tiny seed or seedling.
Get them to choose healthy foods – How to get kids to eat healthy? Let them make decisions about which fruit and vegetables to buy at the supermarket. Because they’ve chosen the food, they’re more likely to eat it. Try sending them out among the shelves to choose an orange vegetable, or a green leafy vegetable, and see what they come back with. Who knows, you might just find yourself expanding your horizons.
Fruit kebabs – Presenting fruit in a new way might be just the trick to eating more. Stringing them on bamboo kebab sticks is fun and colourful, and makes for a fun activity.
Set a good example – show that you enjoy healthy food. If your kids see you enjoying your vegetables, they’ll be much more positive about trying and enjoying them. Nothing puts a child off as much as mum or dad complaining about having to eat their vegies.
Praise or reward (with stickers!) for trying healthy food – Let them know that it’s normal to not like new foods, but that trying them is adventuorous, and you know that as they as so grown up they will try something new. A growing wall of stars for each bite tried of a new food is known to tempt kids to put all kinds of new flavours to the test.
Rename vegetables – Try renaming broccoli little trees, or different vegetables a fun name. A fun example of this is the book ‘I Will Never Not Ever Eat A Tomato’ by Lauren Child.
Cook vegetables different ways – Try stir fries, roasts, covered in dressing or cheese. Steamed vegies can get boring, so there’s no harm in mixing it up a little.
Vegetable dip with crackers – Brightly coloured purees are often more appealing than the strange textures of new vegetables, and it’s a great way to get kids used to different flavours, particularly if the look and feel of new foods is putting them off.
Have a ‘Masterchef’ cook-off between your kids, with parents as judges – Let them know before-hand that they points will be awarded according to colourfulness, or number of vegetables, and deliciousness.
Get your kids to ‘judge’ your food – Like point 10, but the other way round! Parents have a cook-off, and kids judge. Giving kids this power will definitely mean that they’ll try the food, if only for the chance to give some ‘feedback’.
Have themed cooking nights – Something like Italian, Indian, Greek, or Portuguese. Talking about different cultures and what they eat in different countries makes the food much more interesting. For you and your kids! How to get kids to eat healthy can be lots of fun too!
Make dinner a special time – Get your kids to set the table nicely, with table cloths, candles, and fancy serviettes. Sitting down to a special occasion is much more exciting than a regular dinner.
Have a field trip to a farm to see how food grows – It’s amazing how interesting food looks in its natural state. Picking a tomato, or even knowing all the effort goes into growing it, definitely makes the vegetables more appealing.
Start a competition in your family – Who can eat the most different types of fruit and vegetables? Make a list on the fridge and see who can have the most at the end of the month.
Get the kids to cook for a VIP – Ask a friend or family member to come and be the guest of honour– and get the kids to help cook. They’ll be less likely to turn down food in front of others, especially if they cooked it just for them!
Talk about why each food is good for you – For example, meat and lentils grow strong muscles, milk gives you strong bones, and vegetables keep you healthy. Emphasise the benefits of different vegies – orange ones help you see better, green ones make you immune to sickness, and they all help you to grow big and strong.
- Jessica Bailes, Nutritionist and Dietitian
Jessica is a Sydney-based Nutritionist and Accredited Practicing Dietitian. She loves to spend her time helping families develop a good relationship with food, and reading up on the latest nutrition science.