Mealtime can be a challenge for parents, especially when it comes to getting your child excited about eating healthy foods. If mealtime becomes associated with negative feelings in any way, don’t give up! With a little creativity and imagination, you can make it a fun experience for your child while also promoting healthy eating habits.
It can be extremely disheartening for parents who have picky eaters. All that time and effort spent offering healthy alternatives to the few foods they show interest in, only to have them proclaim “yuck!” and “ew!” as they shuffle it around their plate, or worse, throw it on the floor.
To ensure mealtime is a positive experience for both you and your child, let’s look at some creative ways to get your child excited about eating healthy foods.
Make Food Fun
Presentation is key when it comes to making food appealing to children. Try cutting fruits and vegetables into fun shapes, arranging them in a colorful and attractive way on the plate, or using cookie cutters to create fun shapes out of sandwiches. You can also use food as a canvas and let your child decorate their own meal with toppings like berries, nuts, and seeds. Some great examples of foods that are easy to turn into shapes are strawberries, blueberries, whole wheat bread, and bananas. Have you heard of Ants on a Log? Something fun to google later!
Get Them Involved
Children are more likely to be excited about eating if they have a hand in the preparation process. Let your child help wash and chop fruits and vegetables, stir ingredients, and assemble their own meal. You can also involve them in grocery shopping by letting them choose a new fruit or vegetable to try each week. Allow them to choose a new recipe. Let them make their own decisions and see how much more agreeable they become.
Create a Theme
Creating a theme around mealtime can make it more exciting for your child. For example, you can have a "rainbow" day where every meal includes colorful fruits and vegetables, or a "farm-to-table" day where you use fresh ingredients from a local farmers market. What about trips around the world, wild enjoying foods from other cultures! Bonus points for choosing a theme that they’re currently crazed about, like dinosaurs or princesses. What exactly do Princesses eat?
Make Mealtime Interactive
Interactive mealtime activities can make mealtime more engaging for your child. Try playing "food bingo," where your child marks off different foods they try or have a "tasting party" where your child tries a variety of new foods and rates them on a scale from 1-10. Making it a game can associate healthy eating and new flavors to fun and enjoyable.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement can go a long way in encouraging your child to try new foods. Praise your child when they try new foods and flavors and avoid negative comments or pressure to eat. You can also offer non-food rewards, like a sticker or a special activity, to encourage healthy eating habits.
Mealtime doesn't have to be a struggle. Take back control by incorporating these fun and creative ideas into your child's meals to make healthy eating an enjoyable experience for the whole family.