You may not be able to force your child to eat everything you put in front of him, especially healthy foods, but you can lead him in the right direction. March is National Nutrition Month and despite the protests and temper tantrums, it's easier than you think to get even your pickiest eater to chomp fruits and veggies.
Set the Stage
If there's anything I've noticed about my children, it's that they want what's on my plate, even if it's already on theirs. Without saying a word, sit down with a plate of apple or carrots (or whatever you prefer). Your younger children will soon be asking you what you're eating. Just tell them it's a "mommy snack" and ask if they want to try some. You may be surprised at the result. Sometimes even just placing a bowl of cut up fruit on the coffee table leads to my toddler crunching away on the exact foods she turned down at the kitchen table.
Spruce 'Em Up
Kids have a flair for the dramatic. Join in the fun by turning healthy food into fun food. There's the traditional "ants on a log," or you could dip a banana in yogurt, roll it in crushed cereal, and freeze it for a new twist on the favorite ice pop. For a treat kids can make for themselves, check out the Zoku Quick Pop Maker. Your kids can add their favorite fruits and anything else they want to the pop maker, and in seven minutes, they will have their own ice pop creation. You can find 25 Healthy Snacks for Kids at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.
Outright Trick 'Em
Every once in a while our children will go through a phase of complete and total defiance when it comes to eating their veggies. As a parent, you can either go with the flow, or just trick your kids. Jessica Seinfeld's book Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food is just one example of the plethora of resources out there that will have your kids eating healthy while you cackle your evil laugh in the background. From chicken nuggets made with broccoli to brownies baked with carrots and spinach, your kids will be getting their vitamins and antioxidants without you having to pin them down and force-feed them. Plus they'll think you're the coolest for feeding them all this "junk."
Whether your child is 2 or 12, there's a way to get them to eat healthier. But don't forget that the best way is to lead by example and get the junk out of the house. Younger kids want to emulate you and will therefore eat healthy if you do. If there isn't any junk food in the house, they can't eat it. Either way, your children will be more likely to grab that apple as long as you lead the way.
What tips and tricks do you have to encourage healthy eating in your children?