Dear Real Food Kitchen: How can I help my kids enjoy healthy food?
Great question! A google search on this topic will get you tons of great resources and opinions. Here’s what we’d like to add to the conversation…
Start with exposure. Finding new and interesting ways to introduce and present healthy foods to your kids can increase their appreciation for them. And no, we don’t mean you need to hide their vegetables in their dessert! Research has shown that frequent and repeated exposure to healthy foods helps kids eat more of them. You can also check out our Word Search printable to help inspire the kids at your table.
Take a daily stretch! Learning happens when you get your kids (or yourself), to stretch outside of your Comfort Zone. Use this printable with your family to consider which foods you’re most comfortable with, which are a bit of a stretch for you, and which are parked in the maybe someday, category. As a family, try to expand your Comfort Zone. You may find your kids are not the only ones learning to try new things!
Establish growth mindset language around food. Consider using “it’s not my favourite, yet” instead of “I don’t like it” or “it’s disgusting”. Using the term “yet” teaches kids that tastebuds evolve. And, identifying something as “not my favourite” allows room for others at the table to disagree and speak up if it’s something they enjoy.
Involve your kids in preparing meals. We know, this is hard to do when you’re a busy parent! Consider these hacks to help you work food literacy into things you’re already doing everyday.
- Practice writing skills (not writing yet? Draw pictures!)
- ask kids to write the foods they want in their lunches, on your grocery list
- write up a menu for the evening meal while it’s being prepared
- Practice reading skills
- read a cookbook as part of your bedtime storytime routine
- encourage kids to read (or find letters on) ingredient packaging at the grocery store
- Practice math & STEM skills
- Give your kids washing, slicing, dicing or measuring tasks while you’re cooking
Create a mealtime ritual. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, focus on being present with your kids while you eat together. Ask open ended questions about the food on their plates; “which foods on your plate look like they came from a rainbow?”, “what kind of superpower do you think your broccoli has?”
Ask your friends what works for them! And check this from the Healthy Habit Heroes serving Real Food every day… two new tips coming your way every month.