With 3 boys of my own, I’ve got the range of what seems to be naturally “good” eaters as well as “picky” ones. But as I’ve tried to make my own healthy improvements to our family meal plan, I’ve also learned a few tricks to get the kids on board as well. Here are some of my favorites:
Now I’m not talking about a food fight. Not that kind of game. I’m talking more about a challenge of eating all the colors of the rainbow, for example. Healthy eating isn’t just about eliminating foods that aren’t good for us. It’s also about adding foods that are full of nutrients and are amazing for our bodies!
So, create a challenge for a week – can they eat something Red on Monday, Orange on Tuesday, etc. Or, make the challenge run over the course of a few weeks. For example, how many red foods can they eat in one week. How many yellows or blues or purples. It’s a bit more fun to try something new if it’s part of a challenge!
Also, like the game idea above, having a taste test to allow kids to have permission to try and like different foods is another big help in getting kids to eat healthier. For example, maybe try a 2-3 different kinds of hummus and see which one they like better. Or if they already like hummus, see which veggie they like to dip into it! The same could be done with dressing, all-natural peanut butter, and even melted dark chocolate as a dip for different fruits! (Of course we had to include chocolate in the taste test! #eatthechocolate!)
Praise healthy choices.
My boys are always motivated by sticker charts. Heck, I still like the idea myself! Getting a little reassurance and praise is good for anyone at any age. So why not have a sticker chart for trying new foods…or eating without complaining…or finishing all your veggies? Stickers can have magic powers like that!
Make it part of the routine.
If it’s hard to introduce new foods to a set routine or preference, what about designating just one meal a week where kids have to try something new. Make it a “Try it Tuesday” or “Fancy Food Friday.” Let the regular foods that your family knows and loves make up most of the week, but then also build into your meal plan to try at least one new recipe each week as well.
Nothing seems to motivate my boys to eat something new or different more than having them help out with the meal. In fact, recently at my house, we’ve taken it one step further. Once a week each of them actually has to take a turn planning the whole meal. We pick one night each week (when we know we won’t be in a rush for dinner) and the boy in charge of a dinner that week is in charge of the whole meal. He is required to look through healthy cook books, pick a main, side (with veggies), and dessert, write a grocery list, shop with me, and then make the meal for the night.
It’s super fun to see their pride in what they’ve chosen, made and then served to their brothers, dad and me. And it’s also a special date night for me and the child in charge of the meal, which is definitely a bonus in our otherwise chaotic house 🙂
Finally, one last way to make meal time easier involves retraining our adult brains. Making food doesn’t have to be a chore or rushed every time. It can actually be fun!
Crank up the music, get out the wooden spoon mic, and allow meal prep in the kitchen to be something you can look forward to! “Healthy” doesn’t have to be a drag. It can be a time of sweet bonding and shared memories.
Have some tips to get your family on board with healthy eating?
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