It’s hard enough for you to eat your own vegetables let alone getting your kids to do it. Kids would be perfectly happy eating chicken nuggets, cereal, and pizza every day. Everyone can use many more servings of veggies and fruits in their day, especially young children who need the nutrients for proper development.
Unfortunately, kids can be fussy eaters with any type of food, even the ones you think they would like! Here are a few tips and tricks for convincing (or downright tricking) kids into eating what you need them to.
Before we get to fussy eating and drinking behaviours, one special category is taking medication. It’s difficult and uncomfortable for many kids to ingest a pill whole. Vitamins come in easy to chew and flavourful formats, but regular prescriptions from their doctor can be hard to swallow. Pharmaceutical compounding is a service provided by some pharmacies that customizes medications by creating specific doses, formulations, formats, and flavours to make them easier to take. Pills could be chewable or transformed into a liquid, given an appealing taste, or turned into a topical application. You can learn what a compounding pharmacy can do for you here.
Hide & Eat – Try sneaking foods into things that they like, like peas and carrots into mashed potatoes, or more fresh berries into a yogurt snack. Serve a smoothie or a 100% fruit pop instead of a salty snack. Cook up some vegetable fritters instead of French fries. Pureeing vegetables and fruits is another good way to sneak extra nutrients into another recipe you’re making. Changing the texture can make things more palatable as well.
Bargaining – Yes, it’s one of the stages of grief, and it can work for getting your stubborn little one to eat at least some of their healthy side dish. Make a deal that if they take x-number of bites they can stop. Or they’ll get to enjoy another food they prefer if they finish that small pile of grilled vegetables first. Try to avoid doing this frequently with desserts, but if all else fails, a cookie is a powerful motivator.
Mix it Up – Provide variety on their plate of multiple kinds of vegetables rather than forcing them to eat a giant glob of spinach or pile of broccoli. Learn if they prefer a raw or cooked version. Veggies can be more palatable with a healthy dipping sauce or dressing. Cooked veggies can also be with a bit of extra flavouring. Remember that juices are not nearly as healthy as the real thing, especially when it comes to fruit juice, which is essentially sugar water.
Share your Plate – Kids always seem to have their eyes on your plate instead of theirs. Put some of the things you wish they were eating on it and offer to share.
Realize the Benefits – Encourage eating through talking about the benefits of healthy foods. Relate these qualities to a familiar character from a book or TV show they like. ‘If you eat all your carrots and broccoli, you’ll grow to be as strong as Batman, you know.’
Cut Down on Snacks – A good point for adults to remember, too. Eating too much in-between meals will spoil an appetite, and calorie requirements are being met by less desirable foods instead.
Let them Help – Kids will be more excited to eat something that they helped prepare. Plus, it’ll give you a fun activity to do together and a chance to teach them about recipes and nutrition.