Tips To Get Kids To Eat Healthy
8 Tips to Get Kids To Eat Healthy – How I got my kids to eat healthy, and you can too!
I’ve shared the healthy meals I feed my kids on Instagram, and I’m always getting asked how I get my kids to eat so healthy! I have 2 boys: Josh is 4 and Ryan is 1.5 years old. They’ve always been good eaters, but that’s because for the most part I’ve fed them like this since the beginning.
Sure, they’ve had pizza and candy, but at home, they’re eating healthy, home cooked meals. And they never put up a fight.
I want to share all my tips + tricks to encourage your kids to eat healthy too! I promise you that you can do it!
More Kids Eating Healthy Posts
- What My Kids Ate in October – this is a post with a photo of every single meal my kids ate in October. All of their breakfasts, lunches + dinners. This will give you realistic look at what their meals look like day after day.
- Favorite Kids Feeding Supplies – a post with links to my favorite toxic free kids plates, utensils + cups!
Tips To Get Kids To Eat Healthy
1. Only Offer Healthy Food
My best advice is to just dive right in and make the swap. Only offer your kids healthy food. Purge your house of all processed foods so it isn’t even an option. Have them eat what you’re eating. Don’t ease in to it. Just rip off the bandaid and only offer them what is healthy.
If your kid has a diet that consists of goldfish crackers, chicken nuggets and mac + cheese, they are extremely likely to put up a FIGHT! They are going to hate it. They will throw a fit. They will refuse to eat it. Kids are resistant to change at first. Be prepared.
Remain calm and steadfast. Just calmly explain, “We are going to start eating healthy foods so you can grow big and strong. It is going to help you run so much faster, like a superhero! And give you big muscles like daddy!”
If they don’t want to eat it, then they don’t eat it. Don’t offer them any other snack foods to fill them up. I promise you they will not starve to death. A few meals in, they will be hungry and start eating it. By day 3 it will be no big thing and they’ll eat the food without putting up any fight. I promise!
Kids are really resilient and adapt to change way more easily than adults do. They just put up a much louder fight in the beginning!
Think of how much work sleep training was. Or potty training. It doesn’t happen at the snap of a finger. But usually around day 3 things are going smoothly. Then eventually it’s just a habit. Clean eating is the exact same way!
Remember, you are the parent. You are their boss. Think of what an amazing life lesson you are teaching them: to eat and enjoy healthy food. Don’t feel bad that they’re fussy and crying for a day or two. Instead, think of the lifetime of healthy habits you are setting them up for.
YOU CAN DO THIS! Be strong. Don’t waver.
2. Make It A BIG Deal When They Eat Healthy
One of my favorite parenting mottos is “Water the flowers, not the weeds”. Rather than nagging them to try the food, instead make it SUCH a big deal when they do eat healthy food! Do not nag at all. Instead, praise, praise, praise when they do. Much better positive reinforcement.
- To encourage him to eat vegetables: I’ll say to my husband, “Daddy, look at this huge dinosaur bite Josh can take of his broccoli! You’re never going to believe how big of a bite he can take! He’s like a real dinosaur!” And then when he eats his broccoli we clap and whistle and make it a big deal.
- When he eats something all on his own without me having to ask: “Ryan! I’m so proud of you for eating all your salmon! Daddy! Did you see Ryan ate all of his salmon?! Isn’t he the best boy in the world?! Way to go Josh!” Then we clap and say “Yea!” and Ryan will smile so big and feel so proud.
- To sort of bribe him to try something new: “Josh, you know who LOVES brussels sprouts? Papa! They’re his favorite! After you eat it we’ll call Papa and tell him! He’s going to be so proud of you!”
3. Stop Snacking
No, really. Completely stop snacking.
In my family, we do not snack AT ALL! Which always shocks people. Instead, we just eat our meals. Then, when it is meal time, we are actually hungry! My kids are 100% more likely to eat the healthy dinner I give them if they’re actually hungry.
I promise you, your kid does not need food every hour. I’m always see parents constantly handing out goldfish crackers at the park. Your kid gets trained to need those snacks, and usually not because they’re hungry but because it’s just part of the routine. If I were constantly snacking, I wouldn’t be hungry for meal time either.
There are always exceptions to this rule. Like if we’re stuck in traffic and running really late to be home for dinner and they’re miserable, I’ll give them a small Chomps stick. Sometimes to get them to hold still and be good in the stroller during my jog, I’ll give them each a small apple. At Disneyland, to keep them entertained in line we do snacks galore.
But for the most part, no snacks.
4. Describe The Food In Fun Ways
To help encourage them to eat the healthy food, I’ll describe it in fun ways:
- “Doesn’t this broccoli look like trees? Let’s eat it and pretend we’re dinosaurs!”
- Rather than calling it salmon cakes, I’ll cut theirs into squares and tell them they’re having salmon chicken nuggets!
- If we’re having sausages for breakfast, I call them “breakfast hot dogs” and it gets Josh really excited.
5. Offer A Dip
Kids love a dip! It’s fun for them to dip their food in. Plus, I think it’s a great way to offer better flavor to things they don’t love on their own. As long as I have a good dip, Josh will eat just about anything if he can dip it in there.
Some favorite dips for meals:
- True Made Foods Ketchup. This is the rockstar of all dips. This ketchup is so insanely healthy, but tastes EXACTLY like regular ketchup!
- Pesto, sometimes I’ll stir mayo into theirs to make it creamier
- Chimichurri sauce, sometimes I’ll stir mayo into theirs to make it creamier
- Bbq sauce
- Ranch dressing
- Lemon garlic aioli
- Hollandaise sauce
- Orange parsley sauce
6. Offer Rewards
If your kid is being particularly stubborn, a good reward or incentive always helps!
Here are some fun rewards your kids can earn by taking a bite, or better yet finishing all their vegetables:
- Get 3 chocolate chips
- Can read an extra book at bedtime
- Can wrestle or have a tickle fight with daddy after dinner
- Can have a playdate with a good friend
- Can take an extra long bath
- Can watch a show while eating (an extremely special treat in our house that I love to bust out on days when momma is bone tired by the end of the day)
7. Put 1 Thing On Their Plate You Know They Like
If I’m trying out something new with my kids, I’m always sure to have at least 1 thing on their plate that is familiar and they love. Such as raspberries, rice, beans, chicken, a dip they love, etc.
If they see a plate where everything on it is foreign, it is going to feel like too much change.
8. If All Else Fails, Sneak It In
If your kid is extremely resistant, sneak their veggies in! Better than them not having it at all.
Smoothies are a great way to sneak in spinach or kale. Add in frozen cauliflower rice too! Very tasteless.
My taco meat hack sneaks in cauliflower rice and my kids have zero idea they’re eating veggies in their burrito.
My best kept secret? My kids will eat literally anything if I put it in a fried rice. I’m serious. Anything! I can chop up any veggie super small, add in any protein chopped super small, pan fry it in ghee, top it with coconut aminos, and they’ll ask for seconds!