It’s a fact of parenting life: one of the fastest ways to make kids want something is to tell them they can’t have it! Highlight junk food in bold type as “off limits,” and it immediately becomes more attractive.
The opposite holds true, too – forcing little ones to eat broccoli is the perfect way to make them hate it for life. So what’s a parent to do?
I’ve got two boys of my own, and I understand wanting to avoid mealtime battles, while also caring about what’s best for them. Here's 3 quick tips to avoid battles at the table:
1. Don't ban it – swap it!
Instead of labeling food as “good” and “bad” and sparking civil war at the dinner table, try offering swaps instead.
For instance, if your elementary schooler is in love with neon colored Popsicles, but you hate the idea of all the sugar and artificial additives, offer a swap for homemade fudge pops. Just blend together unsweetened coconut milk and chocolate protein powder, pour into molds, and freeze. Your child still gets a tasty frozen treat, and you know it’s actually good for them.
2. Make old foods new again.
When in doubt, mix things up! If a veggie like spinach has gotten on your child’s bad side, try offering it in new ways.
Have they tried it raw? Dipping whole leaves in hummus is a much different experience than steamed spinach. What about cutting into smaller pieces and mixing it into another dish they love? Chop it up – or better yet, let them do it if they’re old enough to do so safely – and then stir it into simmering marinara and serve over quinoa pasta.
3. Change the conversation.
You're not the only one who wants to see your child grow up healthy! Kids do care about how they look and feel, so it’s important to explain that certain food choices will help them have more energy and grow up stronger.
Instead of turning mealtime into you vs. them, reframe the conversation so it’s about making the best choices they can. It doesn’t matter what their age, everyone is more likely to get on board with a decision when they have ownership and respect.
It's worth it!
It takes a little extra time and creativity, but suggesting alternatives instead of saying no can pay off in big ways, as your child develops healthy attitudes about food and eating!
For more strategies, tips, and recipes to help kids eat healthier, check out the post “How to Help Kids Eat Healthy: 6 Fast, Family-Friendly Strategies.” Then whip up a batch of the quick and easy Nutella alternative below, and get the swapping started!
Healthy Homemade “Nutella”
August 29, 2016
Swap the sugar and artificial flavors of the original for this quick and easy Nutella alternative – it's naturally sweet and full of power-packed protein. And with only 3 ingredients, it's also a delicious, quick treat kids can easily make for themselves!
Virgin Diet compliant: Cycles 1, 2, and 3
Sugar Impact Diet compliant: Cycles 1, 2, and 3
- Prep: 5 mins
- Yields: 4 servings
1Whisk together the protein shake powder and water until smooth.
2Stir in nut butter, mixing well.
3Serve with apple slices to dip or in an all-natural coconut Paleo wrap with fresh berries.
Thanks so much for reading this post! If you’re interested in finding out more about how to dial in your diet and health, please check out my online programs. They’re science-based and have already helped thousands of people feel better fast and lose the weight.