Kids are simple. They know what they like and what they don't like, and there's really no gray room in between those two (except for those days when they suddenly change their minds). The point is that it's not easy to convince your child to eat broccoli when they have been refusing it for the last three years. It's time to change things up and help your kids make better eating choices on their own. After all, you don't like being the bad guy!
1. Monkey see, monkey do. If you're going to ask your kids to eat better, you need to do the same. Make up some go-to snacks like apple slices with peanut butter, whole-wheat toast and jam or a colorful trail mix. Give them fun names like the classic "ants on a log" (peanut butter and raisins on celery) or "Mommy's treat." You'll have to have these snacks regularly to really pull them into your web of healthy eating.
2. Get visual. A study at Cornell University showed people are more likely to eat what they see first. That means if you have a cookie jar sitting out instead of a colorful fruit basket, you're more likely to grab a cookie than go into the fridge and grab an apple. It's called "mindless eating," and kids can fall victim to it just as easily. Put away the unhealthy foods, cover them up and replace them with easy-to-grab fruits and veggies or granola bars.
3. Aim for the rainbow. Kids love charts. They show the kids what to aim for, what they've accomplished and how close they are to a reward. Use this printable chart to hang in your kitchen to help your kids make healthy choices every day. The goal is eat as many colors of the rainbow as possible throughout each week: yellow for bananas or squash; green for lettuce, a green apple, pear or cucumbers; purple for grapes, plums, sweet potatoes; blue for blueberries or blackberries, and so on. If they can get all of the colors in one week and then some, you choose a reward for them. It might be they get to pick the flick for family movie night, set the menu for Sunday dinner or have their favorite (healthy) dessert.
4. Get a little sneaky. Any time you can combine veggies into your kid's meal, do it. This means boiling peas with the mac and cheese or tossing in beans with turkey sausage slices. Give them hummus dip instead of ranch and water down their juice. Serve up raw nuts instead of overly salted or sweetened ones. Sometimes chopping food up into unrecognizable shapes help them go down more smoothly.
5. Have them help. Let your child be your assistant in the kitchen. They can help with seasoning, sorting, tossing, setting timers and more. Snack on some of the food while you prep and let your kid's role in the meal making feel special to them. Here are some meal options your kids can help you with!
6. No other options. Hey, mom who always has a plan B, C and D to dinner. If you kid doesn't want to eat what you serve up, tough luck. Once they're preschool age, it's OK for you to deny them other options! You don't need to be a short order cook. Your family might not be super stoked with every meal you prepare for them, but they'll eat it. Make sure your child doesn't get used to this kind of pampering. "But they have to eat!" you say. They'll eat when they're hungry. Keep serving the same veggies, and your child may surprise you one day by just going for it. (via Kids Health)