Do you have a child who pushes everything around on the plate with a fork, or rolls those fabulous baby peas across the floor to the cat? Do they slip 'snacks' to the dog under the table? Or, do they just flat out refuse to eat what you put in front of them? Well, you can be sure that you’re not alone in the battle that ensues at dinner tables everywhere – parents try to get their kids to eat healthfully, but, alas, their efforts are, many times, in vain.
I fought the same battle. Nonetheless, I managed to come up with a way to get my children to eat nutritious meals; however, I have to admit, my plan wasn’t an overnight success. I remained steadfast, though, and I knew that consistency was the key. I had to wear them down.
If you choose to fight the battle, be aware that it’s tough to fight chicken nuggets and cheese fries. I know of a woman who had a six-year old daughter who refused to eat anything, unless she deemed it acceptable. The woman didn’t know what to do, and finally turned to her mom for help. Grandma ordered her daughter out of the kitchen, told her granddaughter to sit down and she placed a plate of food in front of her. Grandma and granddaughter were in there for three hours – it was a battle of wills, and nothing else.
Seem extreme? I think so, too. I had to give Grandma some credit, though, because she got the job done. Luckily, I have a better solution, and I hope it works for you.
Give it your best shot!
First, limit their choices. If your kids know there are chips or candy in the pantry, they’ll try to wear you down until they get what they want. So, the answer is really pretty obvious – don’t have those things in the pantry! Simply don’t buy them. When the little darlings head for the pantry for an afternoon snack, they’ll either eat what is available, or they won’t eat anything at all. You’ll need to have something for them, though, so have some fruit ready in a pretty bowl right at their eye level. They may refuse it, but if they’re hungry enough, they’ll eventually cave.
Bottom line? Get rid of it – out of sight, out of mind.
Tip! Trying to change everything all at once probably isn’t a good idea. You’ll burn out, and they will have won.
Second, teach your kids about healthy eating. For example, without telling them what the actual product is, make a list of the ingredients in sodas and smoothies. Make a game of it, and see if they can figure out the product. When you present them with the list of ingredients, you may wish to have the effect of the ingredient, as well. For example, when you have MSG as an ingredient and ‘neurotoxin’ listed as the 'side effect,' be ready to explain what a neurotoxin is – they’ll learn something, and you’ll look very cool, because you know what it is. When you 'reveal' the product truth, they may think differently (at least, a little) about what they want to put in their mouths.
Third, make it cute and fun. Sipping a smoothie from a curly straw is a lot more fun that drinking from a glass and getting 'smoothie' all over your upper lip. It's a lot neater, too.
Here’s a great idea – serve dips for carrot and celery sticks in a muffin pan, and have a choice of dips.Your kids will love dipping (who doesn’t?), and the muffin tin dipping bowl isn’t something they see every day! Or, serve oatmeal in a pretty teacup with some fresh fruit on the saucer – trust me, your 'girly-girls' will love it!
Fourth, get your kids involved in the kitchen! Let them help. Let them decide on ingredients and, if they make a crummy choice, let them come up with a healthier solution. They’ll feel like they’re a part of the process, and they’ll be proud to eat their own creations. Fruit and green smoothies recipes can be easily modified to please even the most discriminating tastes.
Fifth, keep healthy snacks around. Whenever kids get bored, one of the first things they do is head for the kitchen. If you have healthy food hanging around, they have two choices: eat it or don’t. That seems easy, doesn’t it? When they have friends over and they head for the kitchen, you may have a positive impact on the friend, too! Click here for a short list of healthy snacks for kids and adults to get started with.
If you’re looking for more healthful eating ideas, I recommend Dr. Fuhrman's Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right.