When it comes to healthy eating, getting kids excited about nutritious foods can sometimes feel like a bit of a daunting task, to say the very least. Afterall, how can you persuade a toddler to pick broccoli over pizza or carrots over cookies? It’s important to note, however, that while it may seem like an impossible feat, it is indeed possible to introduce children to healthy eating habits early on, setting them up for a lifetime of wellness. So what is a parent to do when their child chooses chicken nuggets over celery?
Kids Excited about Healthy Eating!
The good news is that with a little creativity, patience, and persistence, parents can inspire their children to not only appreciate but genuinely enjoy nutritious meals. Today, we’ll be sharing 6 creative ways to get the kids excited about healthy eating. Stick with us as we share our favourite tips and tricks to introducing your kids to the value of healthy eating and nutrition.
1. Get Kids Involved In The Kitchen
When it comes to getting kids excited about healthy eating, getting them involved in the kitchen is a powerful and transformative approach. The kitchen can be a playground of discovery, where children can explore the world of food and develop a sense of connection with what they eat. Begin by organising kitchen fridges and pantry spaces together with your children so that they can start learning their own way around the space. Teach them about the importance of keeping fruits, vegetables, yoghurt, and other nutritional foods easily accessible, and how these foods can be used in cooking across breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We also recommend keeping healthy snacks at eye level so that your kids will be more likely to seek out nutritious snacks when they’re hungry rather than opting for high-sugar alternatives.
Next, consider taking your kids along on grocery shopping trips and turn it into an educational experience. Teach them about different food groups, how to read nutrition labels, and the importance of choosing fresh and seasonal produce. Encourage them to pick out fruits and vegetables they find interesting or want to try. Once you’ve loaded up your trolley, set aside dedicated time for meal planning with your children. Sit together and discuss the menu for the week, allowing them to contribute their ideas and preferences. Encourage them to select a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to ensure that they can maintain a well-balanced and nutritious diet.
Make sure they know that even their favourite meals can be prepared in a healthy way. For example, they can have pancakes with yoghurt rather than with ice cream. By involving them in the decision-making process, children will feel a sense of ownership and excitement about the meals they help create. We’ll be exploring how to get your kids excited in cooking and food preparation in more detail later on.
2. Make Food Fun With Creative Presentations
As the saying goes, “We eat with our eyes first,” and this phrase is especially true when it comes to children. It goes without saying that presentation plays a vital role in appealing to young taste buds. When meals are visually appealing and engaging, children are more likely to be curious and enthusiastic about trying new and nutritious foods. Here are some ideas to make food fun with creative presentations:
Bento Boxes – these can be a great way to introduce your kids to a variety of different foods in a fun and engaging way. Thanks to their separate compartments, bento box lunches can effectively be an opportunity for your kids to graze. You can include healthy snacks like sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, cheese cubes, whole grain crackers, and lean protein like turkey or tofu alongside their preferred lunchtime staples. Be sure to arrange all your bento items in an attractive and organised manner, just to make this lunchtime experience all the more exciting for your kids to unpack.
Fun Shapes & Designs – Sometimes, all it takes is a simple set of cookie cutters to completely transform meal times. Parents can use cookie cutters to create fun shapes out of fruits, vegetables, or even sandwiches. You could, for instance, make smiley faces with sliced cucumbers as eyes, cherry tomatoes as noses, and a slice of bell pepper as a wide smile. Or why not encourage your kids to use their imagination and create their own edible artwork? This can also be a great way to introduce your kids to the joys of food preparation.
Colourful Creations – Using a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables can help parents create healthy and visually stunning dishes for their kids. Try arranging sliced strawberries, kiwis, and blueberries in the shape of a rainbow on a plate to begin with. From here, you may even try to create a vibrant salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, grated carrots, and yellow bell peppers. These rainbow salads can be a great way to get fussy or picky eaters interested in vegetable-heavy dishes.
Healthy Dessert Delights – For an extra special healthy treat, why not put a wholesome spin on some of your kids’ favourite desserts? You can create a yoghurt parfait with layers of colourful fruits, granola, and Greek yoghurt, topped with a dollop of delicious whipped cream. Or why not make some ‘nice cream’ at home instead of buying ice cream at the store? This is as easy as freezing bananas and blending them up with added flavours like cocoa powder or strawberries. Serve these treats in colourful bowls or fun-shaped cups to make them even more enticing for your little ones.
By making food fun with creative presentations, you will be able to capture your child’s attention, curiosity, and hopefully even their taste buds! These visually appealing meals not only excite the eyes but also engage the taste buds and promote a positive association with nutritious foods. Remember, when healthy eating becomes an enjoyable and playful experience, children are more likely to embrace it willingly and develop lifelong habits of making nutritious choices.
3. Grow A Kitchen Garden
Another wonderful way to get kids excited about healthy eating is by involving them in the process of growing their own food by setting up your own kitchen garden. Planting and nurturing a garden provides children with a hands-on experience that connects them with the origins of their food and equips kids with a sense of responsibility and pride.
To get started, involve your children in the selection process of plants for the kitchen garden – visit a local nursery or explore seed catalogues together. Discuss the different types of vegetables, herbs, and fruits that can easily be grown at home. Encourage your children to choose their favourite plants and explore new varieties. This involvement empowers them and piques their curiosity about the growth and flavours of different plants.
Once you have chosen your seeds and plants, designate a space in your yard, patio, or balcony for the kitchen garden. As always, be sure to involve your children in the planting process, considering factors such as available sunlight, water accessibility, and space constraints. By growing a kitchen garden, children learn valuable lessons about the environment, sustainable practices, and the joy of growing their own food. This hands-on experience not only encourages healthy eating but also ingrains a lifelong love for gardening and a deeper appreciation of the wholefoods that sustain us every single day.
Learn how to start a kitchen garden here.
4. Experiment With Healthy Recipes
A fantastic way to get kids excited about healthy eating is by encouraging them to experiment with innovative healthy recipes. By involving your kids in the creative process of cooking and recipe development, you can help them develop an eye for meal preparation that they can use to fuel a lifetime of healthy eating.
Kickstart the process by sitting down with your children and looking up healthy recipes online or even in cookbooks. Let them choose recipes that catch their attention and align with their taste preferences. Discuss the ingredients and nutritional benefits of each recipe, helping them understand the importance of incorporating wholesome ingredients into their meals.
It can also be beneficial to encourage your children to conduct food experiments to understand the science behind cooking and healthy eating. For example, they can observe how different ingredients react when combined or explore the effects of heat on food by roasting, baking, or sautéing. But of course, you’ll want to make sure that all food experiments are conducted in a safe and supervised environment – especially if you’re cooking with younger kids!
Lastly, don’t forget to make taste testing an exciting part of this experimentation process as well. Encourage your children to taste their creations and ask them what they think about all the different flavour profiles they’ve been able to put together. Teach them to trust their taste buds and use feedback to refine and improve their recipes. This feedback loop helps develop their sensory skills and encourages them to take greater control over their own meal prep. As they see the positive results of their culinary endeavours, children are likely to become more open to trying new foods as they grow older.
5. Turn Healthy Eating Into A Game
Turning healthy eating into a game is a brilliant strategy to engage kids and make the process enjoyable and exciting. After all, what child can resist the allure of a game? For instance, you can organise cooking competitions where your kids can showcase their culinary skills. Set a theme, such as “healthy breakfast” or “colourful salad,” and provide a selection of nutritious ingredients for them to choose from. This friendly competition not only fosters creativity and teamwork but also promotes healthy cooking and recipe development.
Another great idea is to turn a trip to the supermarket into a scavenger hunt. Create a list of healthy ingredients, and challenge your children to find and check off each item while shopping. You can also give them clues or riddles related to specific fruits, vegetables, or whole grains to make it more interactive. This game not only educates them about healthy food choices but also adds an element of adventure to the shopping experience.
These are just a few of the many simple ideas that not only make healthy eating enjoyable but also empower kids to take an active role in their own nutrition. The element of competition, rewards, and creative expression encourages them to explore new foods, develop healthy habits, and form a positive relationship with nutritious eating that lasts a lifetime.
6. Lead By Example
Last but not least, and arguably one of the most important tips, is to lead by example. At the end of the day, children are highly observant and often emulate the behaviours and habits of their parents and caregivers. When they see the adults in their lives making conscious and positive choices about food, it can inspire them to do the same.
So be sure to make healthy eating a priority in your own life. Demonstrate a genuine enjoyment and appreciation for nutritious foods and allow your children to see you savouring a vibrant salad, choosing a piece of fruit as a snack, or opting for whole grains and lean proteins in your meals. Show enthusiasm for trying new foods and flavours, and share your positive experiences. Remember, your actions speak louder than words, and when children witness the healthy choices you make, they are inspired to follow suit and make their well-being a priority.
And there you have it — 6 simple and highly effective tips that will help even the pickiest of eaters get excited about healthy eating. Introducing your kids to kitchen tasks can also help your littles ones build valuable culinary skills, nutritional knowledge, and experience just how fun cooking and food preparation can be. The joy of cooking and the satisfaction of creating meals together cultivates a positive relationship with food, making healthy eating an enjoyable and rewarding experience for the whole family.
Similarly, linking healthy eating to some of their other hobbies like gardening or outdoor play, can help kids develop strong and dynamic relationships with the way they eat both at the family dinner table and even when they’re away from home, eating at school or at a family cafe or restaurant.
By incorporating these six strategies into your daily routine, you can create a positive food environment that encourages children to embrace nutritious choices with enthusiasm. So, roll up your sleeves, invite your little ones to join you in the kitchen, and embark on this exciting journey together. By investing time and effort in cultivating healthy eating habits, you’re not only nourishing their bodies but also equipping them with the knowledge and skills to make smart food choices for years to come.