If you’re like most parents, getting your kids to eat their veggies can be a challenge. Our registered dietitians offer some helpful tips and ideas to encourage your child to eat healthy foods — even on their own.
Kristin Knuf-Clements isn’t ashamed to say it: Her daughter eats more healthy food than she does. “She’s been doing it since she was born,” the Renown Registered Dietitian says. “She just gravitates toward that stuff.”
Kristin admits her occupation has something to do with her daughter’s eating habits. But, she says it’s also about being consistent and encouraging your child to try new things.
If you struggle to get veggies into your picky eater or you’re looking for fun ideas to enrich your children’s diet, we compiled three easy ways you can get your kids, and your family, to eat healthier.
Get the Kids Involved in Choosing Healthy Foods
Every week, Kristin’s family members are assigned a day where they choose what the family eats. It starts at the grocery store when they get to pick out the ingredients offering them the chance to touch and smell a variety of produce items, and moves in the kitchen when it’s time to start cooking.
“My daughters love it when they get to cook,” says Kristin.
She says the process should start off slow and increase throughout time. For example, when they’re young, get them involved in the decision making process. And when they’re older, let them prepare the food and cook the meal.
She says it also helps to create rules, such as there must be a lean protein and a vegetable, and then go from there.
This is one sure fire way to get your kids involved that will lead to better eating habits as adults, Kristin says.
It’s Not Your Favorite, but Your Kids May Like It
Kids model after their parents, especially in food choices. For example, if a parent actively refuses vegetables, the child could act the same way. Studies show that a lack of vegetables can lead to scurvy and anemia. Don’t be afraid to let your child experiment with food — especially foods you don’t like.
When we met with several of our Registered Dietitians, they shared stories of patients who discovered they liked food they previously thought they detested. If there’s a case where you like healthy foods and your child doesn’t, remember that repeated exposure increases the chances a child will like it.
Grow a Garden
You don’t need much space to start a garden. You and your children can start an herb garden on your window sill – watching it grow will be half the fun for them!
If you have more space outdoors or in planter boxes, you can grow a variety of different fruits and vegetables.
The goal here is to get your child to invest in the growing process and, eventually, they can pick something from the garden and take it straight to their plate.
It’s a fun way to spend time together, too.
You can start with seeds and watch the results. Or, in the interest of time, buy herbs and vegetables that are already developed so that the start-to-finish time is less than a month.
Some favorites to start with include cherry tomatoes, pumpkins, melons, cucumbers, sweet peas, carrots, potatoes, strawberries, and lettuces.
Sunflowers are also an easy and pretty garden item to grow and come harvest time, your kids will have fun collecting and roasting their first batch of sunflower seeds.
Download the MyPlate coloring sheet.
The fun is endless. For more ideas, visit the Kids’ Place on Choose MyPlate.