How to Help Kids Eat Healthy: 6 Fast, Family-Friendly Strategies

by JJ Virgin on August 27, 2016

You’ve had one of those days when you want to hit the reset button.

You know the feeling: it seems like everyone from your boss to your middle schooler to the car that cut you off in traffic has conspired to make this day a doozy. You’re ready to jump on the next direct flight to Honolulu, not make a great dinner!

Cookie bites, freezer fudge, brownies… are you drooling yet? Want to hear the best part? All of these recipes are healthy! You’ll find them and lots more in my Sweet Treats Recipe Guide. Get the sweet, decadent, guilt-free recipes here.

What’s the answer?

On days like that, it’s easy to let tired, hungry kids and a growling stomach get the better of you. Instead of giving in to the draw of the nearest pizza place, stop and take a breath. You can do this!

I run two businesses, and I understand how challenging getting healthy meals on the table can be after a long day at work. I’ve also got two teenage boys, one of whom is a notoriously picky eater.

I’ve developed a few strategies over the decades to keep mealtime peaceful and get even the most demanding child to eat their veggies:

Exposure = preference

Being forced to eat zucchini as a kid never made anyone a squash lover!

But serve it often enough, make it delicious (season well and add some grass-fed butter or coconut oil), and you might eventually find your kids asking you to fix their new favorite green veggie. Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon and garlic can convert even the most veggie-phobic child…

Get them involved

Just like adults, kids enjoy having a sense of purpose and contributing to something bigger than themselves. Ownership in a meal can also go a long way toward helping kids try new foods.

Chopping, mixing, and setting the table all save you time and give them something to do other than ask, “When’s dinner?” You also establish life-long good habits.

Retrain their taste buds

Fake sugary foods have hijacked our kids’ taste buds. Pull the plug on junk food and replace it with naturally sweet and savory flavors.

Here are a few of my favorites:
– Warm almonds roasted with cinnamon and vanilla make an irresistible snack or dessert.
Protein Cookie Bites are also a delicious, easy-to-make treat.
– Hummus is the perfect protein-rich option, and kids can make it themselves once they can safely manage a food processor. Serve with lentil chips or cut cucumber, jicama, and bell peppers with cookie cutter shapes for dunking. (Here’s a perfect starter hummus recipe.)

Make water fun

“Water is my favorite drink,” said no kid ever! Manufacturers know kids love all things sweet and fizzy, hence the juice boxes and soft drinks lining your grocery store aisles.

Leave behind the sugar and save a few bucks by slicing their favorite fruit, steeping it in filtered water, and leaving it at eye level in the fridge. Here’s 10 yummy infused water recipes…

Make lunch or dinner for breakfast

You don’t have to play by the rules! If your kids crave something more substantial than a protein shake, swap lunch or dinner for breakfast. Try grass-fed beef sliders with gluten-free buns. Quinoa pasta with low-sugar marinara sauce will get any kid going in the morning.

You can do the opposite, too, and make breakfast for dinner. A veggie and cheese omelet (if your kids aren’t egg and/or dairy intolerant) with sweet potato hash browns makes a fast, filling, healthy dinner.

Swap it out

I recently asked a friend’s seven-year-old son his favorite vegetable: “Mashed potatoes!” Time for a swap! Try mashing sweet potatoes instead, or make a batch of “faux-tatoes”: purée roasted cauliflower with coconut oil or butter and salt.

Once you get the hang of these swaps, any food can become a fun challenge to upgrade! Spaghetti squash makes an easy swap for pasta, and kids often prefer vanilla almond milk over cow’s milk.

So now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite way to take the battle out of dinnertime, while still offering your family healthy, delicious food? Let me know on Facebook!

“Where do I start?” I get that question a lot. That’s why it’s so important to have a roadmap you can trust. A roadmap that breaks down your health journey into small, manageable steps. Download my Ultimate Health Roadmap and take control of your health… one step at a time. Get your FREE guide here.

The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.