Do you like eating new foods?
Personally, the weirder, the better. Some people are not like me, however, and would much rather stick to what they know. Articles about Angelina Jolie feeding dried crickets to her kids make them reach for the nearest garbage can. I remember I once got my little sister to try calamari (fried squid) at Pappadeaux by telling her it was chicken. She didn’t speak to me for two days.
Now, personally, my sister’s silence was anything but unwelcome. However, her disgust demonstrates an important point. Many kids (toddlers and college-age alike) don’t want to try anything weird or different. So how do you get kids like this to embrace new foods, particularly fruits and veggies, if they haven’t really been exposed to them in their diets before?
One method is to make it fun. 🙂
Yes, those are dinosaur-shaped sandwich cutters. Yes, I am 21. What is your point?
Not every family has access to cool sandwich cutters and organic granola and food processors. Not everyone is a gourmet chef, or really even that creative. That’s okay, I’m right there with you. You can still inspire and involve your kids and get them to nom on the healthy stuff. All you need is a little inspiration yourself. This could come from Pinterest or even a Google search for “healthy snacks for kids.”
I’ll give ya a head start. Check it out!
Bear-y nice to see you toast with honey or fruit/nut butter! Animal cracker feeding troughs! Apple sandwiches- crunchy, yet satisfying! Taste the rainbow fruit kebabs and honey nut cheerio sheep! Get creative with cookie cutters, toothpicks, skewers, and knives to make shapes and sculptures! Or come up with a cute snack name. Who could resist a “Pretzel Snack Stack”?
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!
Use peanut/apple/any type of fruit or nut butter to do a little late-night fishing. Color your spaghetti, or enjoy a “day at the beach” with your kids. Play games using stoplight graham crackers spread with cream cheese. Use vegetable pieces to make a picture; it doesn’t have to be the next Mona Lisa, it just has to be fun. Even something as simple as writing messages on bananas might be all the encouragement your kids need to pick a healthy snack.
Playing games with your food is a big ol’ taboo. Why is that? If playing “basketball” with whole-grain, low fat popcorn using my 13-year-old’s mouth as the basket gets them to increase their fiber intake (without choking), I’m all for it. If your child has a pretty FIRM GRASP on penmanship (Oh, the puns!), play a game of tic-tac-toe with grapes and strawberry slices using pretzel sticks or veggie strips to make the board. Play pretend with your animal crackers or other animal-themed snacks. Introduce them to broccoli florets by pretending they’re flowers, “smelling” their sweet fragrance and offering bunches to each other in grand romantic gestures.
Or even, oh, I dunno…….make dinosaur sounds while you eat your sandwiches……..and introduce whole wheat bread or a new sandwich veggie at the same time.
Even if you’re not the most creative parent, it’s okay. The act of taking the time to make a fun snack for your child at home or for school shows them that you care. I’d be pretty happy to read an encouraging note on a banana from my mom, and would definitely be more receptive to actually consuming said banana.
The simple act of sitting down with your child while they eat their snack and talking to them is great, too. Heck, snack time can be as simple as having them help you throw together some trail mix and put it into bags for the week (my favorite is pretzels, dark chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and walnuts, banana chips optional). Experience shows that when kids help pick or make their food, they are more likely to eat it. They’re excited to try something they helped create–who wouldn’t be?
Make food fun, and do what works for you. I use dinosaur sandwich cutters. The back of the fridge and bottom of the pantry are your only limits, and the benefits aren’t just for kids. Odds are that, while making food fun for your kids, you might find it makes food fun for you, too.
My Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/doghouse33/themed-eatables/
This sweet Kids Eat for Fun Pinterest idea board: http://www.pinterest.com/thesugaraunts/food-for-kids/
Picky Eaters: http://www.playingwithwords365.com/2012/08/getting-your-picky-eater-to-explore-new-foods/