Mar 30 2010

How do you encourage your kids to eat healthy?

Chef Jamie Oliver is taking on school lunches. His new reality show recently changed the lunch menu at a school and made it healthy.  The kids are rebelling and demanding the return of their chicken nuggets and pizza! What does a parent do to encourage healthy eating in their kids? Any suggestions? Questions?

Here's a great tool that can help us learn more about the foods we're eating. It's a free tool (look for all the places to click "free!").  Find it here:


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3/23/2010 6:18:07 PM
Monica George United States
Monica George
Healthy Food:

My Mom always gave us a choice.  For instance, we were always given a choice between two kinds of veggies.  Late she said how amazed she was that it worked so well, because we would be so grateful not to have to each the brussel sprounts! (or whatever the other choice happened to be).  And so we grew up always eating our vegies!
3/23/2010 6:21:58 PM
Emily Isom United States
Emily Isom
I'm not a parent, but my parents were pretty smart when they raised my siblings and I.  They treated vegetables as desserts.  "If you eat all your dinner you get to have broccoli!" Surprisingly, it worked until we noticed my dad got ice cream for dessert and we didn't.  haha And the funny thing is today we all love broccoli still!
3/23/2010 6:24:44 PM
Darlene United States
SO why do the kids have a choice? Children will eat what they are provided if they are truly hungry. My mother would say here is what I have so take it or leave it if you're truly hungry you won't be picky. I have to admit it works as I have a 10 and 12 yr old and because I have raised them that way I don't hear any complaining about food. They are two that are not at all picky about what they will eat or not eat. I am BLESSED!!!
3/23/2010 6:35:53 PM
Elizabeth A. Wright United States
Elizabeth A. Wright
I'd love to comment on FACEBOOK, but there's NO place for me to add a comment.  I wanted to respond to "How do you get your kids to eat healthy?"  As a mother of 4 grown (mostly) children, my primary advice would be: PICK YOUR BATTLES!!!!  If a child doesn't like brussels sprouts, so what?  As long as the food at home is healthy, fresh, and not a lot of prepackaged, prepared foods.  I am a big fan of starting from scratch on most things--and as a single, below poverty level parent, it's cheaper!  Another angle that worked for me (until they got older, and then it was no longer necessary), was to say something like, "Now, don't eat those green beans, 'cause I want them!"  Sure fire!  Respect childrens' natural food preferences--not everyone likes don't!  Finally, be the adult!  Children have been allowed to cow their parents for too long.  Just 'cause "other parents" have cheese puffs and fries all the time doesn't mean you have to.  Tell them to get over it.
  Set the table nicely, tablecloth and all!  Insist on family dinners, as well as manners.  Pray!  
3/23/2010 6:48:21 PM
tammy United States
Hi, I work for the schools as a cook.  Our schools are doing better here in the Central Valley.  We have whole grain rolls, wheat pizza, various topping, fresh fruits/veggies ect.  I am very happy to say, that we are getting better.  At home, I have 4 teenagers. I deleted red meat and use turkey.  I typically use seasoning( no salt kinds)that offer tasty choice to processed foods.  We limit the cans, opting for fresh or at least frozen.  My suggestion is to let the kids experiment.  Let them use fresh items, to make a pizza or casserole.  It will give you time together to enjoy, as well as help get healthy items in them.
3/23/2010 6:53:23 PM
Jeralie United States
START EARLY!  Breastfeeding is the best start to introducing healthy foods.  Flavors go through breastmilk (i.e. Garlic), so eat a variety of healthy foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Then make your own baby food when your 6 month old starts solids.  Avacados are a great first food.  They can be smashed and provide the fats that babies need.  Another example is cooking an acorn squash or zucchini and then placing it into an ice cube tray and freezing it, then you have frozen cubes of squash to thaw and feed to your baby.  This can be done with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and prevents all the additives and extra sugar that are in packaged foods.  
As a Nurse, Lactation Consultant and mother of 2 boys this is the best advice I can give.  My sons 7 & 10, will try anything and eat a variety of vegatables without complaining.
3/23/2010 6:53:48 PM
Jared United States
Part of the problem is the schools. They don't serve healthy items. I am a college student and the healthier food on campus is very expensive. It cost me more to get a wrap then it does to get a whole pizza combo
3/23/2010 6:54:13 PM
Curtis Clemons United States
Curtis Clemons
I have a question: I am college student and I eat on the meal plan at school and I have a hard time eating healthy. I really want to start eating better and to try and lose my freshmen 15 that I gained when I was a freshmen last year! So how can I start eating healthier at school? We have a salad bar but that seems to be the extent of the healthy food.
3/23/2010 6:56:12 PM
Jeffrey United States
I am not a parent yet, but something my parents did was to rename the good foods.  At school all my friends disliked broccoli, so therefore I disliked broccoli.  Because my sister and I refused to eat broccoli, my parents called broccoli, "little trees".  My favorite snack and food growing up was "little trees".  After a few years, my sister and I eventually figured this out, but for most of the food we liked them enough that it didn't matter anymore.
3/23/2010 6:57:09 PM
Katie United States
My parents loved to eat healthy so all of my siblings and I grew up eating and loving vegetables. While we were allowed to eat "junk food" when we were younger my parents didn't buy very much choosing instead to make snacks for us. Even now we tend to choose apples and carrots over junk food.
3/23/2010 7:00:07 PM
Chris United States
Rebellion, as stated above, is the issue here and even deeper is the issue of sin. No kid has the right to tell the parent what to eat. There are many books out there that address issues on parenting, some good and some bad. The best I have found is the Bible. We must not forget the Word of God. It says that we are to "train up a child in the way he should go." It all starts with the parent. Society has bowed down to the children to long and we need to get back to training our children biblically. I hear all too often "we need to made it kid friendly". What we need is to train our children to obedience not what pleases the child. What does this teach them as they grow up? Nothing but that they can get or have anything they want. This only sets them up for failure. We keep trying to come up with new solutions to get our kids to obey when it has already been laid out in scripture. "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." This is where it needs to start.

This is not the typical answer or comment but I believe it is the truth. Thanks.

Dad of Five
3/23/2010 7:02:38 PM
Joanne United States
When my sister gives my nephews vegetables to eat I tell them it's Bob, Larry, Laura, etc from VeggieTales. Then I make sounds like they are talking to them and as they laughingly bring the vegetables to their mouths and begin chewing I make the sounds like they're saying "don't eat me" but garbled as if they are truly being eaten. My nephews eat their vegetables very quickly with this tactic!
3/23/2010 7:04:46 PM
Brian United States
"We have to make eating fun!"   I do not agree.  Kids will eat what we provide.  We have to educate ourselves (parents) first, then we can educate our kids.   We have an 11 year old that has decided not to eat junk food because we taught him to eat right.  We are 90% vegetarians as well and he has made the choice as well.   I also disagree with the 80/20 rule because if you give 20%, then 20% turns into 30, then 40, then 50 and out of control and back to poor eating.  That, to me, is like telling a smoker 1 cigarette is ok per day (extreme example, but true).   It all starts with the parents.  I, as the father, had to be the leader and role model of the family to jump start the transition.  It is working.  Our 2 year old is also learning now and will hopefully be ready when he gets older.  
3/23/2010 7:05:30 PM
Heather United States
       When I was in fourth grade, my dad (age 40) had a 99.9% blocked artery in his heart which resulted in him having a ballooning procedure done and a stint put in.  It is a genetic problem in our family, so from that point on, our lifestyle habits changed a lot!  We started only drinking skim milk, and only buying low fat or non-fat EVERYTHING.  Dad, who loved icecream, even quit eating it and swapped for the healthier sherbet or frozen yogurt instead.  I can remember going to the grocery store with my mom and her teaching me how to read the nutrition labels on margarine (amongst other things) to make sure that we picked the one that was heart healthiest.  It started out as a family effort to keep Dad healthy, and eventually we just got used to it.  It became a habit to always reach for the low-fat alternative, or order a healthier item off of the menu.  Now that I am older and on my own, I see it as something necessary to keep myself healthy, and truthfully I don't even like 2% milk anymore!  
     I think it is important to make eating healthy a team effort, and to take the time to teach kids how they can make good choices, and to realize that those choices can make a big difference in how we enjoy our lives down the road.  
3/23/2010 7:09:17 PM
tammy United States
Sorry, add on:  Also, alot of schools in California are going for the US HEALTHIER FOOD Challenge.  It will help because it requires food to be under 480 sodium mg in an entree, it requires 150 minutes a week for exercise, Dark green/and oranges on the menu.  Things like that.  We offer 3 items daily, one being a salad, usually white meat chicken, grilled, with cranberries, apples slices and walnuts, as an example.  We offer lowfat dressings too.  I love this food challenge for our schools.  We will be able to offer more choices for the kids to choose from.  Jamie Oliver's show shows how we can't go back to traditional thinking.  Our director is a chef and is really cool about creating healthy ways for our kids to eat.
3/23/2010 7:14:28 PM
Julie United States
My kids have choices beginning at the grocery store.  I crazily take all four children with me, and they must select one fresh fruit and one fresh vegetable each week.  They also help prepare these food items at home.  

Plus, a few years ago, we started an organic garden.  The kids select what we grow.  The other day as we began planting they chose eggplant, banana peppers, "pizza herbs", cantaloupe, snow peas, bibb lettuce, spinach, collard greens, and several other items.  But, what joy when I see my kids rinsing a tomato and a cucumber under the hydrant to snack on outside in the middle of the summer!!!
3/23/2010 7:16:18 PM
Christine United States
For me, it is all about involving the kids in the food selection. When we are in the store, I choose the regular produce items (bananas, apples, salad (they won't eat yet), grapes, oranges) and I ask them to look around and see if there is something interesting that they would like to try. Sometimes they pick something out, sometimes they don't. When it is summer, corn on the cob is big!
When it comes to dinner, they have to have a "taster" bite or a "no thank you" bite of everything...vegetables are harder to get them to eat than fruit because of the fruit sweetness. I am lucky that they will choose fruit over cookies.
With school, we are lucky that the elementary kids do not get a choice of meals. The meals are pre-planned and then served to the kids in packaged trays. For instance, today my son's lunch was ham and cheese on a pretzel bun, fresh orange half, applesauce cup. He also can opt to take a cold lunch where a piece of fruit is staple.
3/23/2010 7:17:49 PM
William United States
This is in hopes of helping out with the corrosive influence of our culture on kids (and adults) food choices, like when  we are out at the mall and we want to eat junk food.  

Food temptations are best handled like many other temptations.  Jesus said that when an evil spirit is driven out, he comes back later and sees his old home has been cleaned up, so he just moves back in with 7 other more wicked spirits.  Isn't this just like when we go on a diet?  So what we have to do is fill up the empty spirit house with something good, something from the Lord.  

I like to think of taking care of my body to be a home for Christ.  I want him to have a really nice home.  That helps me resist temptations, at least sometimes!

3/23/2010 7:18:22 PM
grow a garden. it raises their excitement when they see food grow from seed. it is an incredible opportunity to teach the parables of Jesus! and lots and lots of prayer. i almost daily pray that they will love the natural food God intended for us to eat!!! Brandy Durand (my 3 sons love brussel sprouts) Smile

3/23/2010 7:20:09 PM
Karissa Martyn United States
Karissa Martyn
My 13yr daughter watched food revolution with me, and she was really grossed out when they cut up the chicken, grinded up the carcus and fried it. She likes veggies. She was verry inspired to eat more of the veggies she likes and beacuse her little brother wants to be just like her he is eating veggies as well.
3/23/2010 7:21:11 PM
Sara United States
I am a mother of 4 kids who love all kinds of food, from sushi and fish to carrot sticks and peppers for a snack.  We have our share of sweets and treats, but we try to provide a variety of healthy foods for them too.  Balance is the key, right?!  Our rule is that they at least try everything on their plate.  I think it is important to start early and to set a good example.  My husband and I are not picky, and I think that helps tremendously.  We are adventurous eaters and are kids have followed suit!  However, a few years ago our kids were complaining about what was put in front of them at dinner.  My husband said "That's it.  Tomorrow we are having beans and rice for dinner!"  We did, and they loved it!!  We now have beans and rice 2 times a week.  It has taught us all to be thankful for what we have (so many choices) and has helped our grocery bill a ton!
3/23/2010 7:22:49 PM
Sara United States
One more thing....let them help you in the kitchen!  My kids are more willing to try something if they have been a part of the process.
3/24/2010 1:24:54 AM
3/24/2010 2:05:46 AM
Paula United States
With no kids left at home, it is easy to "give in" to cravings (no one's watching).

My tips would be better if I'd follow them more consistently.

I've discovered if it's not in the house, I can't eat it without a trip to the grocery store. So just don't buy the temptations, buy healthy, good tasting food, especially fruits and vegetables.

Secondly, referring to the above tip, I only have to be "good" in the grocery store.  After I get home, it doesn't matter.  If I was "good" in the store, the bad stuff isn't there when I want it.
3/24/2010 2:08:14 AM
Megan United States
In order to get your kids to eat healthy, as parents you need to set the example. If they see that you aren't eating healthy why would they want to?

Another suggestion is Shakeology! Check it out at
3/24/2010 2:12:51 AM
Kim United States
You will not find potato chips, cookies, ice cream, sugary drinks or high fat snacks in my house.  I just don't buy junk at the grocery store.  If we wanna snack, we eat yogurt, raw veggies, lots of fruit, popcorn, etc.  I also agree with Christine in letting my girls help me pick out what looks good to them at the store, and they love being able to make healthy choices for themselves!  My girls just know we don't buy junk at the store so when we go, they never ask for it.  I cook the majortiy of our meals from scratch, using fresh ingredients to eliminate all the unhealthiness of processed foods. We drink water, skim milk or orange juice.  I am a single mom to three girls, so going out to eat is a very rare thing in this house, but if we do, we stay away from the restaurants that serve alot of fried foods.  We recently joined our local YMCA and we are spending much more time away from the TV and we are getting our bodies active and healthy, and it's good family time tooSmile
3/24/2010 3:41:24 PM
Stephanie United States
We make it fun and easy.
Sliced apple with almond butter is a favorite snack.
Sliced raw zucchini and/or carrots with ranch dressing is great and after mine decided they loved it I slowly started cutting the dressing with yogurt.
I've found that if they can smear dip,dressing or nut butters on it makes it more kid friendly.
When they "design" a trail mix they want to eat it, and I'll give in to some carob or chocolate additions if there is a good balance of fruit and nuts.
We were amazed to see them eat nori (the sushi seaweed sheets)and we call them swamp food and the kids become Shrek mouths.
Our son started making tomato and mozzarella cheese sandwiches using mushroom caps as the bread.
The more we give them the creative control with supervised ingredients the more fun we all have.
Trader Joe's has a green drink called Power Plant that is a sweet juice with hidden veggies in it, I can't keep enough on hand, it also makes a super base for smoothies OR really healthy freezer pops!
Hope this helps, any recipes gladly accepted!!
Thanks for the topic,Blessings!
3/24/2010 6:28:13 PM
Amy United States
Don't give the kids a choice.  When I hear whining, I just say that this is what's for supper, whether or not they like it, and they can eat it or not but they'll be hungry when they have to wait for breakfast.  Most often, they will eat it.   Now that they are 6 and 7, I have very few problems.  
3/24/2010 9:40:39 PM
Megan United States
As parents you need to set the example. Kids see what you do and what you don't.  If you aren't eating healthy how are you supposed to expect them to eat healthy?

One suggestion I have is to use a product called Shakeology. Here is some info about it:
3/24/2010 11:10:18 PM
Cindy United States
Eating healthy really begins with mom and dad. If mom and dad say they do not like something, the child will also say they don't like something without ever tasting it. When we eat our breakfast or evening meal, I have also told my children, you have to eat at least three bites of everything on the table rather they like the food or not. I told them, one day your taste buds will change and you many end up likeing something you didn't like. It has been quite effective in my home. There aren't many meals they turn their nose away from. All three of my children are very healthy and are rarely sick. They have no problems eating veggies of any kind: okra (pickled or fried), peas, brocolli, cauliflower, etc. They love them all.
3/25/2010 8:46:29 AM
Heather Harrington United States
Heather Harrington
When my daughter began to eat solid food we always required she eat a healthy snack before she was allowed a sweet one.  If she had healthy in the morning, she got a cookie in the afternoon; no healthy snack in morning, she either had to have a healthy one in the afternoon or none at all.  When she was 3 or 4 I told her she could pick a treat at the grocery store and she actually requested Asparagus.  Now, she is 13 years old and has been diagnosed with Lupus.  In an effort to help her joint pain and to fight off other symptoms we have started her on an Organic/Whole Foods Diet.  Praise God we raised her to prefer the healthy stuff because it has made this diet transition "a piece of cake".
3/26/2010 4:10:28 PM
Madison Parker United States
Madison Parker
Well I am actually 11 so I do not have any tricks yet but my mother gets spinach grinds it up adds water and puts it into an ice tray and it is like spinach cubes then she makes friut smoothies and puts them into the smoothie! you dont taste them and it is ssooo much more healthy!  
4/7/2010 4:32:48 AM
Sarah United States
I encourage my little foster bro to eat healthy by having theme nights where everything would be only one color. Either that or you sneak it into something that he likes.
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