If you are a parent, you know there are really only two types of kids when it comes to eating healthy: Those who love healthy eating, and those who loathe it. Luckily for me, I have one of each.
In my son, I was blessed with a child who has a voracious love of fruits and vegetables. I beam with pride when he requests that a waiter bring him a salad instead of a burger, and I smile when he asks for an afternoon snack, opting for sliced bell peppers over cookies or chips.
Alternatively, my daughter is admittedly more like me. She’s got a sweet tooth and a penchant for all things that would fall into the “comfort food” section of the food pyramid. Also, anything that can be drizzled with cheese, will be drizzled with cheese. There’s nothing wrong with this, I’ve told her, as long as she understands there’s a certain balance to be struck.
It has taken a lot of work, but I think we’re getting there, slowly but surely. Here are some of the methods we have tried to get her excited about the colorful spectrum that makes up the produce section.
Photos Courtesy of their respective retailers.
When in Doubt, Freeze It
A lot of folks recommend adding spinach to smoothies, but that won’t fool my kiddo — one taste and she knows the difference, no matter how many berries I use to mask the taste. However, if I freeze the offending smoothie — maybe even add some strawberry chunks — voilà! It’s ice cream! I love these UTSPÄDD push-up ice pop makers (IKEA, $4.99) because there’s never a mess to clean up afterward.
When the End is in Sight
Many times, kids just want to know exactly how many bites are left until dessert. Somehow, that knowledge steels them for what lies ahead. That’s why we love these Fred & Friends Dinner Winner trays (Amazon, prices vary). They present kids with both in-meal entertainment and manageable portions. The best part: Dessert is the prize at the end of the quest. You can choose from themes like pirate, enchanted forest, and a dinosaur expedition.
To Market We Go
The best way to get kids excited about food? Involve them in the process. Let them watch you cook, give them a small, manageable kitchen task, or even include them in the shopping. Consider bringing this Kids Tote Bag by Etsy shop BKYKid (Etsy, $42) to your neighborhood farmers market. The bag comes with veggie identification cards so kids can learn the names before they go.
Both of my children love premade, store bought lunches, and I love that I only spend five minutes each morning preparing their lunchboxes for the day. However, our pediatrician tells us they’re horrible. Instead, we’ve switched to leak-proof, bento-style Bentgo Children’s Lunchboxes (Amazon, $27.99), which allow us to ditch the preservative-heavy portions for fresher, heartier options.
Loki Has Got Nothing on a Desperate Mom
If all else fails, take a page from the God of Mischief, because trickery is likely your only viable option. In these instances, I typically turn to my worn copy of Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious (Amazon, $15) for advice on how to dupe my children. Hint: It typically comes down to pureeing vegetables and lacing things like pizza or spaghetti sauce with the incognito greens.