The best plan for keeping our kids healthy and focused in the classroom starts in the kitchen! Eating a balanced diet, especially one that encourages our kids to 'eat the rainbow' when it comes to fruits and veggies, has a powerful impact on our children's wellbeing. But knowing our kids should be eating well is one thing; convincing them to do it is quite another!! I'm certainly not perfect, but I've got a few tricks up my sleeve for encouraging better eating habits for my kids. Drum roll please....
Turn kids into cooks: Letting kids cook fosters independence, relational bonding, and also encourages better eating. If they helped you cook it (or even picked it at the grocery store) they’re more likely to show an interest in it at mealtime. Pro tip: Collect recipes with that don’t all happen over an open flame! Be sure to try out the featured recipe below.
Put one new food on their plate: Normalize new. Making a habit of exposing your kids to different foods has a big payoff, even if they don't eat it!. Over time, kids become more friendly towards foods they’ve seen before. Putting one new food on a plate next to foods they’re already familiar with is a way to make it ‘no big deal’ that they’re trying a new food.
Mask new foods: When putting new foods in plain sight doesn't work, try camouflaging them. You can make a 'green smoothie' with frozen pineapple, spinach, and vanilla plant-based protein powder, bake carrots and zucchini into chocolate muffins, mix cauliflower rice into regular rice, or add hidden veggies into pasta sauce.
Make it a game: My five year old couldn’t stand the thought of broccoli, until my brilliant husband told him he was a giant and the broccoli was a small tree. Making monkey sounds gets my toddler in the mood for a banana. Or turning meal-time into a contest or a race are all great motivators to eat that food!
Show them what it looks like: As parents we should constantly be modeling the behavior we want our kiddos to duplicate. Over time, good eating becomes normal for them if it's always in front of their eyes. Another way to sneak those colorful plates in front of their eyes is with subliminal messaging! Last year I created these placemats for my kids so they'd always have a healthy plate to look at while they eat. And back by popular demand, I've included a template below so you can make your own - an 11x14 inch printout laminated is the perfect size! (Pro tip: add your child's photo in the upper right corner to personalize it.)