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A question I’ve been getting a lot lately is if my 8 year old eats what we eat. I would love to tell you yes, my child can’t wait to eat the healthy meals I prepare. To be honest though, I usually hear “I’m not eating that”. More often than not he does eat what we eat. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to make dinner go smoothly. Here are some ways to get kids to eat healthy.
If you follow along in my Weekly Menus you’ll notice we often follow some sort of Beachbody Meal Plan depending on what workout program we are currently doing. Right now we’re following the 80 Day Obsession Meal Plan.
We’ve tried some new healthy recipes and for the most part my son eats what we eat. Here are some of the ways I get my kid to eat healthy food we eat.
You eat what we eat or you don’t eat at all. I’m sure you’ve heard this before but you’re not a short order cook. There is no need to make multiple meals to cater to your children. Make what you’re serving the only option. Especially if it’s something you know they like. I hear, “I’m not eating that” even when it’s food I know my child has eaten and enjoyed. I don’t argue about it, just serve the food.
The other day he told me that if he doesn’t eat he will die. I agreed with him and said that’s why he should eat what I’m serving 🙂 Eventually he eats the food I’ve prepared. Sometimes he even asks for seconds. That’s when I give my best – I told you so mom look.
When my son asks what we’re having for dinner I like to tell him the most basic way possible. For example, when we have Pot Roast I tell him we’re having meat, potatoes and carrots. He’s familiar with those things. When you tell your kid something they’re not familiar with you instantly get pushback. Keep it simple and let them know what’s for dinner by telling them things they are familiar with.
This works especially well if there is something you know your child likes. If your child likes grilled cheese for example but you’re serving quesadillas you can tell them that what you are having is just like grilled cheese.
Separate Out Food
I’ve always heard that children don’t like their food mixed together. When we’re having soup or a casserole I separate out all the different elements. For example, Shrimp Stir Fry is served as shrimp, veggies and brown rice. Each food is grouped together instead of mixed together.
I will also pick out the items I know my son won’t eat, like onions and cooked tomatoes. Gumbo becomes sausage, bell pepper and rice.
My son has tried and doesn’t like lettuce. If we’re having a salad with our meal I will just serve him the tomatoes and cucumbers I know he does like and will eat.
Make small adjustments to what you’re serving to get your child to eat it. The other day I made Sweet Potato Chicken Wraps from the Fixate Cookbook. The recipe called for mashing the sweet potatoes and mixing them with chicken and wrapping it all up in a collard green leaf. I wasn’t even sure I would like it. To make sure my son would eat it I left the sweet potatoes on the side and wrapped the chicken up in a tortilla for him.
I do the same when my husband & I are lowering our carb intake and having Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps. I make lettuce wraps for us and use regular taco shells for my son.
If there are foods I know he likes but not cooked, like tomatoes and carrots, I will simply set some aside for him and serve them uncooked. Again, the rule in our house is you have to at least try a bite.
Top It Off
I’ve found that ketchup & cheese make almost any meal edible for a child. My son loves broccoli- with shredded cheese on top that is. Any meat (chicken, beef, fish) we are eating goes down a lot easier with ketchup. I usually present the meal like we are eating it and if there is any pushback I’ll offer to top things off with cheese or ketchup.
We use reverse psychology at the dinner table a lot. We like to tell our son that we don’t want him to eat all his vegetables or meat because it will make him grow and then we will have to buy him all new clothes and shoes. You’d be surprised how often he will actually play along, even as he’s gotten older, and say look I’m eating the asparagus. To which we reply, “Oh, No! Now you’re going to get big and strong!” Weird, but it works.
I would love to tell you these ideas work every time, but they don’t always. There have been a couple of occasions where I know my child is not going to eat what I’ve made. In those cases we make him at least try a bite. If it doesn’t go over well there’s the option of a sandwich or Spaghetti-O’s.
How do you get kids to eat healthy in your house?