Parents, how many of you worry about whether your child is eating a healthy, well-balanced diet? Are they consuming enough vitamins and nutrients in what they eat? Do the foods that they eat daily help to prevent them from illness? I constantly worry about this, especially with my three year old. I know that if it were up to her, she would simply eat goldfish, marshmallows, and graham crackers all day, every day. So what can we do to get our kids more excited about eating those “icky” green foods? You’re in luck, because I’ve got several resources and ideas to share with you!
4 ways to get your kids excited about healthy eating:
- Veggie Talk: Use this helpful chart to explain the importance and benefits of consuming different veggies!
- Involve your child(ren) in the grocery shopping process. Let them look at the grocery ads and ask them to circle which fruits/veggies you should buy at the store. When you take your kids to the grocery store, let them help you pick out fruits and veggies. (Or if you are not currently going to any stores, let them help you shop online.) Make it a game! See if they can find some in all of the colors of the rainbow!
3. When you get home, let them help you chop, peel, slice the goodies you found at the store together. (Using a kid friendly knife, of course.) Allowing your children to be involved in the preparation process will get them more excited about healthy eating. My 3 year old loves to help me chop veggies; and, if I’m lucky, she will sample some of them!
4. Challenge: See if your kiddos can eat the colors of the rainbow for a whole week using this Rainbow Food Chart:
CECPTA Veggie Hacks
Here are some different and unique veggie hacks used by a few of our own CECPTA families! Have you tried any of these?!
“I like this book. It explains most of my basic instinctive approach, which is to eat a variety of really good quality veggies yourself, and model that behavior and expect it.
Also, having a veggie ‘course’ first when you’re the most hungry. I think having good ingredients (i.e. more fresh, less processed) makes yummy produce enticing for everyone. Unfortunately a lot of veggies out there are just bad quality and people end up with bad habits. I love vegetables, but if you try and hand me a can of something that’s overcooked and bland…no thanks.”
“Involving the kids in the shopping–My 4yo helps pick what to order for our produce box every other week and the fact that they’re often really big or small or different colors makes it extra fun to try things.”
“Making a recipe together usually makes her more excited to try it. We make basil pesto or a tomatillo salsa. We name all the ingredients we are using and she often samples each one…even raw onion!”
“Smoothies! Sneak some greens in with those. <3”
“Start a vegetable garden. Kids get excited about eating what they grow.”
“Start them early and never give up. Always put some on their plate–even a teeny tiny little piece and offer a ‘no thank you’ bowl to avoid throwing. Give them the control, but always offer it. And model eating it and enjoying it in a variety of forms. Don’t hide it.”
“Start eating/offering veggies early and continue forever.”
“Fun dips like hummus and ranch.”
“Cover it in cheese!!”
“We do a vegetable starter at lunch every day before the main meal and try to make most meals vegetable-centric. We don’t make a big deal about what they eat and what they don’t; we encourage them to keep trying things and to describe them (taste, texture, etc.). They eat what I eat. No special meals.”
“My daughter likes to dip EVERYTHING in ketchup. So that works sometimes. Or honey sometimes too!”
“I like to think about the way each veggie would be at its tastiest and cook it that way. I’ll put one piece on Laurel’s plate and have her ‘please try’ first when she’s hungry. She usually will then ask for more or spit it out. I have found she’s more reticent to eat more new foods when she’s hungry so I don’t give her snacks before dinner!”
“We have tried a lot of things with my son. What is currently working, and it has worked, is telling him that he will have the stinkiest farts and make the whole house smell. He thinks it’s funny and has even eaten asparagus. Not completely proud of this tactic, but he gets in veggies and protein now.”
“One of the things that worked when my kiddos were younger is ‘rebranding’, so broccoli became Dinosaur Trees, carrots were Super Vision Sticks, etc. It made it more fun and interesting.”
“We try to have a veggie at lunch and dinner, but Zoe gets to pick which one. That means it’s usually carrots or cucumbers, but that’s fine with me. Sometimes she surprises us, like this weekend, she ate grilled zucchini and squash with gusto.”
“We started by giving a tiny amount (like 2 green beans) and really small portions of everything on the plate. And we said as soon as you eat all your food, you can have more of whatever you want. And gradually overtime, we just upped the portion of the vegetables, but it kind of kept the same routine. They’ve gotten used to it and now my oldest (2nd grade) just eats mostly the same way we do.”
“I cut everything up almost like a pilaf, mix rice or some sort of grain with it. Easy to eat.”
Healthy snacks and lunches that are toddler friendly
“My son was such a picky eater and barely ate. He was not even on the growth chart and I was so desperate. One day, I made him fun sandwiches and cut out his veggies in different shapes. He showed interest and took tiny bites. I eventually added more things for him to try and now he is a such foodie.”
This article from hauteandhealthyliving.com shares some great snack ideas that not only incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables, but also protein-rich foods that will help keep them fuller longer!
This article from yummytoddlerfood.com has a variety of healthy lunch ideas. Some of these can be prepared ahead of time. It even has tips for packing lunches in a lunchbox!
Also from yummytoddlerfood.com, smoothie recipes that help sneak in veggies!
Just for fun…
Lastly, I couldn’t just end this blog post without sharing Cookie Monster’s classic song, “Healthy Foods” from Sesame Street!
I hope that some of these resources will help develop or reinforce healthy eating habits for your families. With the fall and winter seasons quickly approaching, it is more important now than ever to be proactive in keeping our families healthy and free from illness and consuming plenty of vitamins and nutrients from fresh veggies will help. Remember…we are what we eat, so eat healthy and be well!
About the Author:
Jen was born and raised in Carrollton, TX. As a former 2nd grade teacher, she is now a stay-at-home mom raising her two beautiful daughters, Madeline (3yo) and Charlotte (1yo). She joined the CECPTA in February 2019 and is part of the purple and green playgroups. She enjoys date nights with her husband of 8 years, playing outside with her kids, exercising, a good cup of coffee, and traveling.