Do your children push away spinach or refuse to eat broccoli? Do they shun the fresh fruit you offer them for snacks and dessert? If you want to get your kids to eat healthier, it helps to make their meals and snacks fun to eat.
As you know from following the South Beach Diet, healthy foods, like vegetables and fruits in a rainbow of colors, can actually be an appealing alternative to junk food. Start your kids on the road to better health early by asking younger children to make a list of their favorite veggies and fruits, and if they’re not sure, help them out with a quick online photo tutorial. Then make an effort to incorporate some of their picks into the meals that you prepare.
Do your children have a soft spot for french fries? Introduce them to the South Beach Diet version, which uses sweet potatoes. They’ll be surprised how good these taste! Do they love after-dinner sweets? Serve them strawberries, grapes, or banana pieces that they can dip into a little melted dark chocolate. Most importantly, show your kids that you practice what you preach and set a good example by enjoying vegetables and fruits (on Phase 2) at the dining table along with them. And be sure to make a concerted effort to get any junk food out of the house.
Here are seven more ways to get your kids excited about fruits and vegetables:
force your children to eat what’s on their plate. Provide them with small
servings of new vegetables and fruits at first, and then reintroduce those
foods regularly in various ways over time. If at first you don't succeed, you will find that perseverance pays off.
- Encourage your
children to help with food shopping, and meal preparation (if they’re old
enough). Studies show that children will often try new foods if they have
helped to shop for and prepare them. Older children can help cut up vegetables
and fruits. Younger ones can whisk salad dressings and toss the salad, too.
- Get dipping: Kids
love to dip. Serve raw veggies with a low-sugar prepared ranch dressing or with
hummus. Or offer them tomato salsa or a Greek yogurt dip, such as tzatziki,
made with cucumbers.
- Invite your
children to taste canned, frozen, and fresh veggies (don’t tell them which is
which in advance), and let them choose their favorite. In many cases, the
canned and frozen versions can be as healthy and tasty as fresh.
- Use cookie
cutters to make fun shapes out of melon slices. Kids love experimenting —
then eating their experiments.
- Help kids make
fruit kebabs using fresh melon chunks, cherries, bananas, grapes, and/or kiwis.
Be sure to trim the sharp tips off wooden skewers and supervise young children
- On hot days, freeze fruits like grapes, blueberries, and mango to enjoy right out of the freezer. Or, for a rich and creamy frozen slushy, freeze banana slices and purée with 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter in a blender or food processor. Pour into a cup and sprinkle with some semi-sweet chocolate chips.