How to Get Kids Eating Healthier

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

If your kids are picky eaters, it can be hard to get them to eat their veggies. And let's face it - endless amounts of nagging can only do so much.

The ideal, of course, would be a kid who wants to eat healthy. What parent wouldn't like that?

Fortunately, there are simple techniques that can help "train" your kids to become healthier eaters. Parents, these may really come in handy.

Eat Dinner Together

In a day and age when convenience trumps all, it’s hard to eat as a family during dinnertime. But studies show that it’s definitely worth it.

Kids who eat dinner with their parents tend to eat healthier meals. They’re more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and are less likely to eat fried foods, sodas, and trans fats. 1

Put Fruit In A Colorful Bowl

There are psychological aspects to your diet. If something looks good, you’re more likely to want to eat it.

Cornell researchers conducted a series of experiments examining the health habits of kids eating lunch in a school cafeteria. In one study, fruit sales increased by 104% when placed in a colorful bowl.2

The take home message? Place fruits and vegetables in colorful plates and bowls and get creative with arrangements.

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

In the same Cornell study, researchers found that when unhealthy items were placed out of reach, for example ice cream was put in a freezer with an opaque top, sales for healthier items increased. In addition, relocating the salad bar tripled sales.3

The take home message? Keep junk foods out of sight (or even better, don’t buy them) and keep the healthier foods within close reach.

Bite Sized Portions Are Best

Do kids really avoid healthy foods because they don’t like the taste? Perhaps not. It may be a matter of portion size. At least, that’s what the results of the Cornell study implied.

When given the option, kids chose apple slices over whole fruit. In a school cafeteria that had fruit slicers, apple sales increased by a whopping 71%.4

The take home message? Pre-cut fruits and vegetables in small portion sizes work!

Be A Good Role Model

Kids are going to do what they see at home. If you eat healthy, then chances are your kids will too. Examine your own eating habits and determine if they’re up to par.

Hide It

If all else fails, sneak the produce into their favorite foods. If you’re creative enough, they’ll never suspect foul play.

For example, add shredded carrots to tomato sauce or zucchini to your favorite bread mix. We’re sure you can think of more ideas...

Hopefully, some of these suggestions will help get your kids eating healthier. If you have any tips of your own to share. Please drop them in the comments!

References

  1. Arch Fam Med. 2000 Mar;9(3):235-40. 
  2. Available at: http://smarterlunchrooms.org/news/some-us-lunchrooms-get-cheap-makeover. Accessed October 20, 2014. 
  3. Available at: http://smarterlunchrooms.org/news/lunchroom-savvy-%E2%80%94-schools-find-smart-ways-encourage-healthful-choices. Accessed October 20, 2014. 
  4. Available at: http://smarterlunchrooms.org/news/making-fruit-easier-eat-increases-sales-and-consumption-school-cafeterias. Accessed October 20, 2014.

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