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Getting Kids to Eat Healthy

by Joe Lawrence | February 16th, 2016 | Preschool

Baby peeled carrots in a bowl for a picnic

“A carrot by any other name, is a still a vegetable and kids will still refuse to eat it.” This is a slight twist on Shakespeare’s quote, but something most parents with preschool aged children know. What is the deal with children and vegetables?

Never once have I had to plead with one of my children to eat all of their ice cream, but it was a daily battle trying to get them to eat vegetables. With our daughter we gave her different options, and she usually chose the better tasting side like sweet potato fries over carrots. So with our son, we only offered him vegetables. He did very well at first and then just would not eat them. He never really had other options or even knew there were “better” choices; instinctively he somehow knew.

That debunked our immersion theory, so my wife had a better plan that works very well to this day. She made them fun. She will make little cars out of apple wedges and use blueberries and toothpicks for the axles and wheels. She cuts the carrots with a crinkle cutter and has plastic eyes to stick into them to look like a little face or animal. The result…the kids devour them.

I could go on to list many different ideas that she has created over the past couple of years, but I would rather point you on a path than just get your feet wet. Do an online search for Planet Box lunches and there are lots of resources there for you. These are sectioned-off metal lunch boxes that parents are using in very creative ways. She bought one of these for our kindergartner and makes a fun and well-balanced meal for her each day. My daughter eats everything in there, even if it is something she is not crazy about.

I think the biggest problem is that we paint these healthy foods with a negative sheen, and the kids sense this. “You’re not getting out of your chair until you eat your peas.” “That broccoli will be waiting for you tomorrow night, too!” Then we further damage the image by saying, “If you eat just one more bite of carrots, you can have some ice cream.” This places sweet treats on a pedestal. Instead, we need to make fun snacks that make our children excited. This will get them used to eating healthy foods and not be afraid of them.

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