How do you get your children to eat healthy food? I am forever singing the praises of iron-rich spinach and sight-improving carrots but what really gets my kids eating everything on their plate is letting them do the ‘cooking’ themselves…that and the fact that I don’t let them snack after 3pm so by the time dinner is ready they are starving helps a lot too!
Encouraging children to eat the healthy and wonderful food you prepare can be an exhausting exercise. It takes time and success comes slowly to most of us, but I have found with perseverance and a few helpful strategies…the range of foods my kids eat has widened considerably.
Helpful Hints to get kids eating healthy food…
1. Make a rainbow on your plate
We all eat with our eyes so make kids food look enticing. Make your plate a rainbow! A friend and I often make a platter with lots of different healthy things like carrots, celery, hummus, strawberries, cheese, grilled chicken and just let the kids help themselves.
2. It’s all about choice
It’s great if you can give your kids some freedom to choose what they are going to eat…this might not be achievable all the time but if you are making something like the flat breads in this post, you can let them choose their own toppings – though, I will say to my girls…you need to pick at least three things, not including tomato sauce!
3. Positive Encouragement (ok, bribery…)
We don’t have dessert in our house every night but there is no way you are getting it if you don’t do a good job with your dinner first!
4. Just keep trying
It can take up to twenty tries before kids will like a new food so persist! Encourage them to at least try new things, even if they really don’t like them…having said that, if there is a food my kids really, really don’t like (like tuna…) I don’t force them to have it, food should be fun.
Tips five and six are for not for the feint hearted…read on if you are in to tough love…
5. No snacks after 3pm
My kids eat dinner at 5.30pm so I rarely let them snack after about 3pm. This came about after my Master L, at 16 months, got all fussy and wouldn’t eat his dinner…when I realised he’d had a biscuit, some strawberries and a banana since lunch time, it wasn’t hard to figure out why.
6. That’s it, there is nothing else
I don’t force my kids to eat everything on their plate but I do expect them to appreciate the effort I have put in to making their meal and have a good attempt at eating it (we can all dream…) I will often be heard to say…well, you don’t have to eat it but there will be nothing else…why would you eat your veggies if you knew an ice-cream sundae was just around the corner?
So it might sound tough, it might sound like a lot of effort but setting your kids up with healthy eating habits should definitely be up there in our top 5- most- important- jobs as mothers.
I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions about how you get your kids eating well…feel free to leave a comment…but first…here is this weeks Good Food Friday recipe…
Kid Friendly Spelt Flat Breads with Grilled Chicken and a Rainbow of Salad
Low fodmap, wheat free (not gluten free) dairy free and optional vegetarian
2 cups spelt flour (you can use regular plain flour)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Up to 150mls tepid water
Put the flour in the food processor and turn it on…while you are whizzing, slowly pour the oil and water in, stopping when the dough forms a ball (you may not need all the water). Remove the dough, give it a quick knead and then pace in a bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rest for thirty minutes.
Heat up a medium sized fry pan. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces and roll out into a circular shape on a lightly floured board (if using spelt flour, the dough can be a bit sticky so use a little more spelt flour for dusting).
In the dry pan, cook your flat breads one at a time, about 1-2 minutes on each side. They will bubble up a bit in the pan and develop golden patches on them. Load them up with your favorite toppings and dig in!
Rainbow Salad …your choice of toppings…
You can really put anything you like on your flat breads…we had grilled chicken with a little olive oil and lemon but you could easily do a vegetable skewer with your favorite veggies like zucchini, capsicum, mushrooms…the list is endless!
I also LOVE this simple carrot salad…
2 grated carrots topped with 2 shakes of cinamon, 4 shakes of cumin, 4 chopped fresh mint leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of lemon juice…DELICIOUS!
Whatever you choose, put it all on the table and let the kids go for it. My kids think these flat breads are great…I really hope yours do too!
Happy, healthy eating!