YES, YOUR KIDS CAN EAT HEALTHY AND (REALLY) LIKE IT
Messy scenes centered on the protest, “I don’t want those yucky vegetables! ” may be funny in the comic strips, but not around your family dinner table.
If you’re the parent of one or more finicky eaters who seem to think that if you really loved them, you’d serve cheeseburgers and ice cream exclusively—there are better solutions than the “You’ll eat it if I have to hold your nose to make you open your mouth” approach.
Parents can get so caught up in “doing what’s right” for their kids that they never consider how unpleasant it is to be deprived of all say in what you eat.
Don’t Bother with the “It’s Good for You” Argument
Even with adults, “staying healthy ” really isn’t much motivation for doing things you hate. Since it’s unlikely kids will feel an obvious difference in the “big and strong ” category after one meal, it pays to provide more immediate reward by serving menus that are healthy and tasty. And while you’re at it, set an example and enjoy the food yourself!
Try New Foods and Recipes
Just “knowing the answers,” or even the formula to find the answers, makes for a very one-dimensional learning experience. When classroom work focuses regularly on projects—building models, writing original stories, conducting experiments—focus moves beyond simply getting it “right ” into growing, developing, and seeing more and more possibilities for ongoing improvement.
Give Kids the Same Dining Rights as Adults
You wouldn’t make a big deal out of it if an adult guest left something untouched—and if she were smaller than you, you wouldn’t pile a serving sized for your stomach onto her plate. If your children “aren’t hungry,” maybe they really aren’t; provide a variety of good options daily, and diets will balance out soon enough.
Let the Kids Help Fix Dinner
Especially if the recipe or cooking technique is new to the kids, they usually love the opportunity to create—and they’ll eat it just out of pride in the results.
Don’t Play off One Food Against Another
“If you aren’t hungry enough to eat that, you obviously don’t want dessert either ” is both counterproductive (reinforcing the idea that healthy food is a necessary evil and only fattening sweets are really desirable) and illogical (haven’t you ever experienced a sudden revival of appetite when the monotony of an overly large serving was broken by the arrival of a different food?). Dessert shouldn’t have to be served at every meal anyway. Keep it for special occasions, and serve all-healthy courses at most meals. For getting kids to eat healthy, nothing beats limiting access to unhealthy foods.