I’m frequently asked how I get my kids to eat the foods we eat. I want to preface this by saying that this doesn’t always happen. While my kids are pretty good at eating the things I cook at home, they are still kids and don’t LOVE everything I cook. With that being said, here are five practical ways to help your kids try new foods.
- Give them options. Rhett loves to have ownership over things and feel involved. I find that when I give him food options to choose from, he is more excited about what’s on the table. If I’m deciding between two vegetable options for dinner, I’ll ask him which one he would rather eat. He is a kid so sometimes, he pushes back, but for the most part, he will choose one and eat it. Zoe is still young enough that she doesn’t have an opinion. Plus, she is a good eater.
- Allow them to choose healthier snack options. Whenever I think about the week ahead and order my groceries, I will ask Rhett what snacks he would like for the next several days. Again, I let him choose from the options that I give him and he will be more excited to eat those things. I think it’s important to remember that healthier snack options don’t mean they are boring and tasteless!
- Involve them as you prepare the food or snack. I know this doesn't work for every kid but when we give our kids ownership over a task in the kitchen, it makes the process more fun. This might take a little more patience on our end but when our kids are excited about healthier options, it is worth the extra time. This might look like asking your child to help put food in containers, adding something inside zip-loc bags, or helping prepare the food as they get older.
- Explain why it's important to eat quality food. Lately, Nathan and I are starting to have frequent conversations about this topic with Rhett. While eating is fun and very tasty, it’s also good to start talking about the kind of food we eat and why we eat it. There are certain foods we need to feel our best and to be strong. When we feel fueled and gain strength by eating quality food, we will play harder, improve our mood, and sleep better.
- Small changes lead to progress. I won’t pretend for a second that my kids are perfect in this area. There are days where I throw frozen chicken nuggets on a plate and call it a night. Making quality meals isn’t always easy, it’s usually not convenient, but it’s worth it. Find changes and meal swaps that you can make with your kids. There is a middle ground and you’ll find ways to make it fun.
I know the “what should I feed my kids” topic can be overwhelming. We constantly compare what other kids are eating to what we are feeding our children. Here is the bottom line: they are KIDS! Let them be kids. This doesn’t mean we never feed them vegetables or give them healthy snack options. It does mean we should show ourselves grace. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to give our kids the perfect meals and we need to stop! The ideas I mention above have given me practical ways to start talking about the importance of whole foods with my kids. At the end of the day, I want them to know that the food we eat was created for a purpose. The Lord gave us ALL these amazing foods to help us feel our best. And yes, that includes the occasional treat and frozen chicken nuggets or pizza. Take the pressure off, friends! You’re doing amazing!