Some of the common questions I get asked is how to get kids to eat healthier. I am planning a 2 part session "FuN, CrEaTive, and deLicIous FoOd 4 KiDs" workshop, with the first session explaining and educating parents about the importance of nutrition, balancing blood sugars, and creative, fun ways to get them helping in the kitchen and eating the delicious masterpieces in the end! The second part is a hands on cooking class where parents bring their children with them and let them take part in all of the fun! We all create a yummy, healthy meal that we enjoy together and have practical knowledge to go home with and use. My approach is to involve them in some of the preparation and that way they will feel like they contributed, they are proud of their efforts, and they (hopefully) are excited to taste what they created!!
Here are some tips and suggestions to get you started:
- Practice what you preach!! You can't expect your child to drink water if you're drinking pop? This is so important! Kids look up to their parents and if they know you don’t like it they will follow in your footsteps.
- Try it again, and again. If it doesn’t work the first time, try a different way next time. Don’t give up. Try adding veggies raw, lightly steamed, in a soup, dips, smoothies, fresh made juices.. just keep trying.
- Expect that they will like it. If you go into it saying that you aren’t sure if they’ll like it, or make a face while serving it, they likely will already sense they won’t like it. Make sure to try it and say how much you like it first.
- Include them! At the grocery store, planning and preparing meals let them share ideas and help out with tasks. When you are making a smoothie, let them put some ingredients in! If they are a part of the process they may show more interest. At the grocery store let them pick a new or exotic fruit or vegetable and then you are forced to try new things! The Organic and Local food baskets are great for this since they deliver new produce each week, so every week its a surprise! Kids love surprises!
- Have healthy food available! Spend Sunday afternoons grocery shopping, meal planning, and prepping your week’s meals. Wash and cut up veggies and fruit, have all of your produce washed and stored so that it is ready to use for meal times. Have pre cut veggies and fruit on hand that they can grab at snack times. Make sure that the unhealthy foods are removed and replaced with tasty, healthy ones. Instead of chips and cookies have nuts, seeds, fruit, healthy dips such as guacamole, hummus, bean dips, salsa, veggies, and whole grain crackers, muffins, and trail mix.
- Make each meal Fun, Creative, and Colorful. Different colors of foods all provide varieties of nutrients growing bodies need and crave.
- Cut fruit and veggies into fun shapes: peppers into flowers, Use a vegetable peeler for peeling carrot and parsnip noodles, a spiral vegetable slicer for zucchini, beet, carrot and mango noodles, its all about appearance.. You know yourself if your food looks appealing it usually tastes better!
- Switch mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower, or half potatoes, half cauliflower for a smoother transition, mashed parsnips and celery root, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, or sweet potato mash.
- Make Smoothies: this is where you can add frozen or fresh fruit and greens and mostly just taste the fruit. Use greens such as sprouts (broccoli, sunflower, alfalfa, etc), kale, baby spinach, and romaine lettuce and add so many nutrients into one drink.
- Juicing: Start off by adding sweet apples, pears, beets, cucumbers, and carrots to greens and gradually add ginger and more bitter vegetables. Once sugar is replaced with whole foods and natural sweeteners everyone’s taste buds will start changing and will actually start craving less and less sugar. Juicing is a wonderful way of getting a huge amount of nutrients into one cup. The more greens you add to your juices, the more alkalizing the juice will be. Too much sugar (even in natural forms) is adding acidity to the body which is what disease thrives on.
- Let’s leave rewarding with “Treats” a thing of the past. Is consuming a sugary treat which will likely result in a tantrum, wild child, or whining a treat for anyone? Probably not. Let’s switch to using rewards such as stickers, going to their favorite park, a book, or time with friends. It really depends on their age but you know best what is a reward for your child and you can be creative with it.
Well, I hope some of these suggestions are helpful in your household and I would love to hear some feedback! Let me know what your tips and tricks are for getting your kids to eat healthier?