5 Easy Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat Anything

Photo: Rebecca Blumhagen for mindbodygreen

When you’re busy with work, family, and life, making health a priority can sometimes seem impossible—too expensive, too time-consuming, too complicated. But in reality, every tiny step you take toward wellness makes a difference. That’s why mindbodygreen and Lorissa’s Kitchen are celebrating the #SmallWins that make healthy living attainable to anyone, anywhere. Here, lifestyle expert and mother of two Sophie Jaffe shares how involving kids in the kitchen empowers them to make healthier decisions.

We’d all like to believe that if you lead by example, your little ones will follow. But in reality, it’s not always easy. Although kids may be hungry enough for baby carrots and hummus, they happen to spot a friend licking the frosting off a doughnut. Suddenly that’s the only thing they want. And maybe you actually want a doughnut too.

Choosing the healthier meal or snack can be difficult (especially when that pastry or pizza is sitting within reach), but if you’re consistent and heartfelt about your food choices, the loves who surround you will follow your lead. Eating well raises high vibrations—it boosts your mood and makes you glow from within. But how do you get there in the midst of life’s demands?

The simple change that worked for me: giving my kids options

For years, I felt anxiety when I tried to squeeze my food choices and eating philosophy into a box. Over time, I learned that by not labeling it and not limiting my options or depriving my body, I gained a sense of freedom. This #SmallWin made space for creativity and flexibility. By shifting my mindset, I am able to fully embrace balance and work collaboratively with—rather than against—my body to give it what it needs to function and thrive.

From there, I’ve found that it’s much easier to pass on those habits, and that philosophy, to your little ones—to teach them the value of food. Instead of creating a “healthy diet” based on limitations and rules, show them how to eat from a place of love: love for themselves, their communities, and their larger world.

The moment you or your kids eat something because it’s “good for you” without having any passion for the food itself is the moment that it loses some of its power. Instead, teach kids to eat because they love how the food tastes and how it makes them feel.

Here’s a recent #SmallWin I’m proud of: Kai, my 5-year-old, has always made it clear that blueberries are not for him. And given that blueberries are beautiful blue marbles of antioxidants, this made me feel sad. Still, I felt there was no reason he shouldn’t try some every once in a while. After rounds and rounds of him still not liking the berries, we gave him a basket this past week, and he ended up happily eating the whole container!

To celebrate, I went to the grocery store and loaded up my cart with beautiful, wholesome foods—including the oh-so-yummy ingredients for a batch of superfood doughnuts!

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Make your own #SmallWins: Teach your kids healthy values

It’s simple! Find recipes for nourishing dishes you and the kids can’t wait to make, have fun, make some magic in the kitchen, and keep better-for-you snacks on hand to enjoy on a busy day. Here are five ways to get started:

1. Collect.

Collect healthy cookbooks, discover wholesome food blogs, and add nourishing recipes to a Pinterest board for your kids to browse through and choose what they want to eat.

2. Create.

From there, ask your kids to create a recipe list. Go over the ingredients and assign them the task of being your little helpers in the grocery store.

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3. Prepare.

At home, allow them to help you safely prepare the dishes and drinks. This is a team effort, and they’ll be thrilled to eat what you all created together.

4. Give options.

Help your kids feel like they’re in control by giving them tons of options, but only offer whole-food choices that are dense in nutrients. A cacao banana smoothie OR a strawberry spinach smoothie? Sweet potato fries OR Lorissa’s Kitchen premium protein snack? Green juice with lots of apple OR red beet juice? Once you lay out the options, let your kids decide.

5. Try.

Constantly expose your kids to new foods that you can feel good about enjoying together. Kids may not initially like a food, but if it’s prepared or presented in a unique way, they could come to love it. Zucchini, sweet potatoes, and high-protein meats have infinite possibilities—keep on asking your kids to be adventurous and give it a go.

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