Another lunch. Another sandwich. Another day when your kids pick out all the vegetable and gobble up what seems like an entire loaf of bread.
Anyone with me on this?
I wonder how I can encourage my children to eat their broccoli, to actually eat the healthy food.
“What happens if you try to swallow food when you’re standing on your head?” I ask.
It’s so frustrating teaching our children healthy eating habits.
We present lovely healthy food. They ignore it and crave the junk that is hiding in the cupboard.
Healthy Eating Takes Time to Learn
My first words of encouragement to you are that it takes patience and persistence teaching your kids to love healthy food.
You cannot force them to like healthy food. You cannot bribe them to like healthy food. You cannot threaten them to like healthy food.
You can only encourage them by patiently presenting healthy food again and again and again.
Make Healthy Food Fun
You can help to make the healthy food more desirable and one great way to do that is to make it fun. Appealing and enticing so that your kids want to eat it.
So that they choose to eat it.
There are a heap of ways to make it food fun. They don’t all have to look pinterest perfect images. Think of those as inspiration for what you can do rather than what you are actually going to make.
I suspect your kids haven’t looked on pinterest lately and they’ll be wowed anything that half resembles a face, or chicken, or mouse.
- Fun Pictures. Picasso eat your heart out. Or a “egg mouse” if you prefer! Let your kids make their own. Give them lots of cut up vegetables and see what they can make. (I’ve put the instructions for the pictures further down.)
- Help Yourself. Present lots of different vegetable sticks with some healthy hummus and watch your kids try them all out. If they don’t like them, not to worry. My 3 year old even tried celery. They spat it out, but hey, a good start!
- Cocktail Sticks. My kids love eating with cocktail sticks. Great for those times when peas are sitting unloved on the plate.
- Change of scenery. Have a teddy bear’s picnic in the garden. Or go to the park. Change it up a little.
- Draw on your food. For anything with a peel, bananas, oranges and clementines, you can use a marker. How about cream in your soup? Or edible pens?
- Fun shapes. You can cut your carrots into stars. Or use a cookie cutter to make a fun sandwich or tortilla.
- Ice cube tray. Try not eating off a plate. Try an ice cube tray or a muffin tray for a bit of fun.
- Play Restaurants. You can be the waiter or waitress or even the other way around if your child is old enough. Set a “posh” table and pretend the Queen is coming to dinner.
- Pastry pictures. Whenever I make chicken pie, I cut the rest of the pastry up into simple pictures, normally with the children’s letters. Not only do they love my vegetable filled chicken pie, they also love seeing the picture when it comes out of the oven.
Half a hard boiled egg on a slice of bread, use whole meal bread for extra healthy fibre. A slice of cheese, try to use “proper cheese” rather than pre-sliced package cheese. Raisins or olives for eggs and nose. A piece of green pepper for the tail and carrots for the ears. How about putting your mouse on a bed of lettuce or nibbling some peas for extra greenery?
A cherry tomato cut in two. A black olive for its head. Edible paint for the spots and eyes. Although you could use black seeds such as nigella seeds for the spots, or even cut up olives.
A slice of salami for the face, black olives, some green pepper and parsley or coriander.
Dante, always keen to accept a challenge wobbles rather precariously on his head, propped in the corner of the room to stop himself from falling over. I pop a piece of broccoli in his mouth.
He topples over with a triumphant grin on his face.
“I did it! You can!” He cries with satisfaction.
It is true, your oesophagus (or esophagus if you’re from the US), or “eating tube” has muscles in its wall so you can swallow if you’re upside down.
However, it’s a rather dubious strategy for helping your kids eat healthy food. I wouldn’t recommend it!
How to Feed Your Toddler A Healthy Diet
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