Everyday I get frustrated emails from Mom’s at the end of their rope. I hear comments like “How do I get my kids to eat? They hate fruits and veggies! All they want is junk”! And so on…
I’m not saying these are the only ways or that they’ll work on your strong willed little one, but it’s definitely a good start.
1. Shop with your little one. I know this sounds like a dreadful activity, but it works. My favorite place to go is the farmers market because there are tons of other kids there and the free samples are endless. Kenya usually will have a piece of corn, strawberries and apple slices in his hand all at one time. I’ve never seen him say no to any food he’s eaten there.
2. If you don’t live near a farmers market try the grocery. Go to the fruit and veggie aisle and come up with some fun recipe and cooking ideas together. Say “hmm, what should we do with this sweet potato? Could we mash them and add some pineapple or raisins?” Kids want to participate and helping them be creative will open up a whole array of culinary possibilities that they will enjoy cooking and eating.
3. Cook with your kids. Since my son was old enough to hold a spoon I’ve had him in the kitchen with me. He loves peeling bananas and pouring frozen fruit and rice milk into the blender for a smoothie HE made. Any time you’re cooking a recipe, even if it’s something you’ve made 100 times, think of a task your little one can do like shelling beans, stirring, pushing the button on the food processor, ANYTHING!)
4. Talk as you’re cooking. Tell your child what you’re doing and why. Make it like a story. I let Kenya hold fruits and veggies or give him samples as I’m cooking involving him in the process. He has a high chair and a little table (from Ikea) in the kitchen where he can play, look at books and snack on the foods I’m working with.
5. Eat as a family. Its tough, especially with so many schedules, but if kids see you eating broccoli and how much you’re enjoying it, then hopefully they will too. I heard the best story today. A Mother told me that her daughter won’t eat anything but noodles with butter (a frequent trap food for parents). For some reason, though, her Grandmother, a rawist (go figure) taught this 6 year old how to make kale, lettuce, fruit, flax smoothies that she has for breakfast every morning. A little girl that hates everything drinks kale smoothies? The fact that “Nana juice” is her favorite breakfast should shows me that kids want to emulated those around them. If Daddy loves steamed fish with peas, then maybe his kids will too.
Image by Maren Caruso
How did your kids ever start eating the junk, or bland food in the first place? Don’t even introduce it – that’s my motto. My 2.5 yo son eats all veggies and all food I serve to him. We eat together every night – and he has helped me cook since he could stand on a stool. Mushroom risotto was the first meal we cooked together. I am helping to develop his mind, body AND his palate.
Take your kids shopping with you and let them choose and new vegetable to go with dinner. Involve them in cooking to help get them interested in what is going on their plates and in their bodies. Consistently offer healthy choices. Include something with dinner you know they already love and also include something new! You may need to offer the new item ten times before they’ll even try it and several more before they decide they like it! Keep it up, Mama! You’re doing a great job!
HELP!!!! I have 3 kids. My oldest wont eat ANY…and I mean NO vegetables. He wont even try one. He also does not drink milk or eat yogart. He would live off pasta, pizza and junk. My middle wont eat ANY fruit,…..wont even drink fruit juice. She eats potatoes and corn only for vegetables. My youngest eats it all but I am concerned she will start taking on their pickiness. How can I convince my 11 year old and 8 year old how unhealthy there are…..I need to introduce some veggies and fruit into their diet…..before its too late!!!!!
Love all the wonderful, healthy recipes!
We have a big power struggle. Dad and Ben ( 2 3/4 years old) would rather starve than eat healthy foods, and DO! Dad only drinks soda, and eats all his meals at work, so he doesn’t have to eat at home. He is aware of my veggie stuffing ways. I put flax in every baked good, you name it! Ben will drink smoothies, and I got a juicer. That he loves, but will not eat any meat but bacon, and that is rare. I never thought I would be this mom, and really, I blame myself. Just found your website, so I will be trying this out this week. So excited, starting with the Top Ramen. Thanks! My fish allergy has kept me away from a lot of restaurants.
I tend to have bad eating habits, and when I make poor food choices, so do my kids! I try to eat healthy as a good example. The farmers market really is a great place to have fun and to get kids to try fruits and veggies. My daughter (age 3) loves going there to eat berries, carrots, and dates. We also try to grow our own veggies-we live in a small townhouse, but planted a garden in a plot where my mom works. We started seedlings in the house (my daughter helped) and we drive to the garden once or twice a week to water, weed, and pick our zucchini, squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers. We are having lots of fun watching our cantaloupes grow. A field trip to a nearby farm is also a good way to show the kids the connection between growing food and eating it. Cooking with your kids is great advice-we are going to start doing more of that!
I’m with you! I’ve done all of these things and more with my kids. It really does make them excited about food. It’s a shared experience and a fun one at that.