You are a regular reader of this and other blogs on living a healthy family lifestyle. You frequent the farmer’s market for fresh ingredients and cook most meals from scratch, with real foods. You have your mind set on packing your kid’s lunchbox with healthy snacks and a wholesome hot lunch from home. Sounds perfect, you’re good to go… oh, wait, there is one small detail that may make you a wee bit less confident about just how healthy a ship you will be running this school year: your child’s willingness to play along, to actually eat what you feed him.
And you know how the saying goes: You can lead a horse to water, blah blah. So we asked ZisBoomBah’s house nutritionist and mom Lisa Lanzano, MS, RD to share her top 10 tips for, um, shh, “manipulating” kids into eating healthier.
- Get kids involved in the planning and cooking. Let them create their own menu with Pick Chow!, ZisBoomBah’s fun meal planning game. Then, shop for the fresh ingredients together at the grocery store or farmers’ market they want to try.
- Model healthy habits. Show your children how you eat and enjoy the food, which can encourage them to try the food too.
- Positively encourage your kids to eat new foods, rather than making a big fuss over what they are eating or not eating.
- Try and try again. Keep reintroducing new foods into your kids’ diet.
- Dip it, dunk it, drizzle it. Let your kids choose – better yet, make with you — a variety of dips (ranch, balsamic vinegar, Caesar dressing or hummus) and dunk their vegetables into it.
- Mash, mix, marinate. Mash potatoes with cauliflower, mix spinach with cheese or marinate veggies in a teriyaki sauce to encourage kids to try new vegetables.
- Go with mild, bland or sweet vegetables as opposed to bitter vegetables (such as Brussels sprouts or kale).
- Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sweetness (potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, onions, asparagus), making some kids more inclined to eat these foods.
- Make mealtime fun-time by inviting the neighbors over for a healthy snack, like decorating celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries, raisins or blueberries, or with flavored cream cheeses. You can also use hummus or cheese and incorporate other fruits such as grapes and apples.
- Juice it! Incorporate many fruits and vegetables into an ice cold drink that the kids can sell on the side of the road. Think of it as a new twist on the traditional lemonade stand. They can put in blueberries, strawberries, bananas, while you sneak in some flax and other mild vegetables, like mache, baby spinach or baby field greens. Sweeten the drink with sugar snap peas, baby carrots and/or baby corn. You can also make it a competition to see if the kids can taste a particular vegetable or fruit in their smoothies.