Getting Kids to Eat Healthier
If you have a house like mine, where you share food prep duties with your wife/partner, the kids’ nutrition is just as much your responsibility as hers. Since obesity is at an all-time high among kids, not to mention related illnesses such as asthma and diabetes, getting kids to eat healthier is important. If your kids are normal, they probably have some aversions or things they refuse to eat–like my oldest son, who went for three months refusing to eat anything green, or my daughter, who says she can’t handle “slimy” things (like cooked vegetables, of course). Some kids settle into favorite foods, like my buddy’s little girl, who ate chicken nuggets (and ONLY chicken nuggets) for six months. How do you deal with this? Here are some tactics that have worked for me.Keep Trying!
Just because they turned their nose up at it two, five, or a dozen times before, don’t give up on certain foods. My daughter was adamant about her dislike for spinach. We tried and tried. Then, one day, we made veggie omelets, with spinach as part of the filling. She loved them, even after we told her she was eating (gasp!) spinach. After that, she began to open up and even asks for it. You never know when the right flavor or texture will prevail, or whether you’ll just eventually wear them down.
Sure, it’s deceptive, but who cares? It’s not like you’re making your kids eat something that’s bad for them–the opposite! And so what if they don’t know! We’re parents, right? That means we’re authorities, and we make the rules. So, if you have picky kids that don’t like, for instance, vegetables, change them up! One of our favorite tactics is pureeing carrots, red peppers, onions, tomatoes, and spinach. This base can then be added to anything, like soups, pasta sauces, chili, stews, filling for tacos and such…It adds some consistency and flavor, and is chock-full of vitamins, minerals…all the good stuff.
So your son wants potato chips? Give him baked ones. So your daughter wants breakfast cereal? Give her one that’s low-sugar, but throw in some fresh fruit. Although home-made is best, when you don’t have the time or energy to make things, try some of the newer organic, healthy packaged snacks. Just read the labels, so you’re educated about how much fat, sugar, and sodium they have. Buy low-fat milk, cheese, salad dressing, etc.–I don’t do full-skim stuff, it’s too close to plastic in taste and texture. Buy whole-wheat pasta, and if your kids aren’t already hooked on white bread, buy whole-wheat instead. If they’re Wonder Bread junkies, transition them from it slowly. If your child is like my buddy’s chicken-nugget-obsessed daughter, find a way to duplicate their fixation, but healthier. And always keep offering healthy foods as well–they will, eventually get past that phase.
Using these basic techniques, you can adjust your kids’ eating habits and put them on the track to better health.