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Raising independent children from the start sure has it’s pros and cons. On one hand, they are able to do many things earlier than their peers, however, at the same time, their independence can cause us, as parents, to bump heads with them on occasion as they are more outspoken about their wants. As my toddler gets bigger and her vocabulary expands, she has started being more vocal about want she wants to eat as I know my friends are also going through similar experiences.
Luckily, we don’t have to stress about this! We have plenty of options as parents to get our kids to eat healthy, even if we are constantly on the go. Whether you are a working parents, have extracurricular activities, always traveling, or anything else that keeps you constantly moving, I’m here to tell you that even you have plenty of options for keeping the whole family healthy and get kids eating healthy fast.
*Trick: Get them in the Kitchen
We’ve been doing our Mini Chef Mondays series here since November, where we showcase us cooking something new with our toddler every week. It’s my number one tip for getting kids to eat healthier. When they get into the kitchen and make something themselves, they are more likely to try it out!
Tip: Meal Plan
When you meal plan, you are less likely to order out and more likely to make healthy meals at home. The more meals you make at home, the more likely you are cook healthy meals and thus the more likely your kids are to eat them as well. Start by meal planning for a few days at a time and then work up to a weekly meal plan, biweekly, and even monthly!
*Trick: Put it in a tin.
Grab a large muffin tin and put 6 different healthy snacks inside. From cheese and crackers, to dried fruits, frozen fruit, hard boiled eggs, nuts, and fresh veggies, your kids will love having a variety to choose from.
Tip: Don’t Show Them Your Dislikes
This one was super hard for Andrew because he himself is such an insanely picky eater. Skibbles, our toddler, would dip broccoli in salsa or put fish in her yogurt and he really had to hold back. However, he quickly learned that by not showing her his dislikes, she tried so many new things.
*Trick: Make it a rainbow
Grab a variety of colorful foods and line them up, stack them up, or cut them into fun size bites. Red strawberries, orange slices, yellow mango, green cucumbers, blueberries, and more, the possibilities are endless. Put a variety in the tin like described above and it’s even easier! elevĀte salads, at Wegman’s, have a variety of colors that will make your kid more likely to try them paired with a delicious dressing. The Organic Nutty Cranberry salad for example has green and purple lettuce, red cranberries, white cheese, and a pink dressing to make kids love it.
Tip: Don’t buy junk
Not for you, not for them. If you want something for yourself, hid it in your hidden drawer. If it’s in the house, you both will want it and that’s not going to be healthier for anyone.
*Trick: Treats in Moderation
Even though you’re not buying it, still give them something. Go out to a local creamery for ice cream, allow them to have dessert at dinner out, or grab a candy bar at the checkout lane. The key here is moderation. This doesn’t mean every time you go to the store, but rather once a month or an agreeable amount of time.
Tip: Model Healthy Behavior
They are watching your every move, including eating. If you never eat anything green, why would they? If you never try something new, why would they? Let this be a time of exploration for both of you. Explain to them that this was never a favorite food of yours, but you’re going to try something new with them.
*Trick: Grow it at home
Start a garden! Even a small one with one or two plants to teach them about the growing process and also allow them to pick the food for themselves. Tomatoes and strawberries are easy things to grow and something that most kids love. Our toddler loves going outside and being able to grab a strawberry for herself!
Tip: Don’t Give Up
Try, try again. It takes someone an average of fourteen tries before they know if they really like something or not. So if you have only tried twice, try again. They won’t eat raw broccoli, but maybe they would like to steamed or roasted, so try it different ways. Trying new spices or new combinations also helps, like chopped up broccoli finely into a pasta salad.
*Trick: Let them choose
Give them the option, but make it healthy. Would you like to try an apple or a pear this week? Would you like dried cranberries or dried pineapple? How about cashews or kale chips for a crunchy snack? Giving them the choice always helps! They want to feel in control! When we went to Wegman’s to pick up our elevĀte salads, we gave our toddler the option of which to have for dinner and surprisingly she didn’t choose the pink one (nutty cranberry), but rather the Organic Southwest Salad that had green lettuce, orange carrots, yellow corn, and black beans!
Tip: Start Young
The earlier you start them eating whole foods, the lesspicky they will be later in life. Give them a well rounded balance of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and proteins, and nutrient dense foods from the very beginning.
*Trick: Make it a game
Meals are about bringing families together. They shouldn’t be stressful. Sing a song around the dinner table. If you have older kids, see if you can toss something healthy in the other ones mouth. Have an at-home Chopped challenge using only healthy ingredients.
Tip: Stop Making Them Clear the Plate
Imagine if someone kept forcing you to eat when you were full? It wouldn’t feel great right? Our kid’s stomachs are much smaller than ours and they require food more often. Instead, use the tin option above and let them graze instead. Of course, you don’t want to let them have a snack if they only took two bites of dinner and then immediately asked for a cookie, but if they ate half their meal and then said all done and 30 minutes later are hungry again, it’s quite possible.
*Trick: Thicken Up That Smoothie
Ice, Ice Baby! One of the easiest ways to get most kids to eat healthier is to throw things in a smoothie. With our toddler, if I can get the smoothie pink or purple, she’ll gobble it up every time, no questions asked. Add a ton of ice (or use frozen fruit) to make it as thick as you can and call it ice cream! They love it (even if it’s green!).
Want to keep this list handy!? Print it out!
elevĀte salads feature clean ingredients in their superfood salads that are high in omegas and plant-based proteins. There are 8 varities, 5 of which are USDA Organic, 7 are gluten free, 1 is vegan and 3 are vegetarian. They are also Non-GMO project verified and come in fully recyclable packaging using soy-based inks. Like us, as parents, elevĀte knows that feeding your body is the key to being healthy and happy. Now you have that right at your fingertips and your kids with these amazing options for on the go! We thoroughly enjoyed both options we picked up and will be going back to get more elevĀte salads.
Do you have any other tips or tricks you’d add? We’d love to see a comment letting us know!