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Simple Things You Can Do to Get Your Kids To Eat Better

By Elizabeth Leader Smith, August 12, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Elizabeth Leader Smith

My family’s incredible summer (beach days and theme parks and road trips, oh my!) often didn’t translate to very wholesome meals (take-out and eating out and desserts, oh no!). Now that we’re getting back to our routine, balancing healthy choices, busy schedules and the kids’ taste preferences would seem like an impossible feat if it wasn’t for tiny victories. 

Double Grape SlushiesTiny Victories

Substituting with whole grains. Choosing organic fruit. Avoiding artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. These victories may not seem grand, but add them all up and you can change your child’s health. Here are some of my favorite tiny (read: manageable) victories that can help improve your child’s meals from morning to night, including snacks in between.

Rise & Shine

You got them out of bed and on their feet. Let’s see what we can do about giving them some good stuff to start their day. Here are three ideas they’ll eat up:

  1. Banana chocolate chip pancakes. Tiny victory: use whole wheat pancake mix.
  2. Green eggs and ham. Tiny victory: add finely chopped spinach whisked into eggs before scrambling.
  3. Peanut butter waffle sammie. Tiny victory: use a fresh fruit and peanut butter filling.

“Constructables”: A Lunch Plan

Oat-Date BarsColor + protein + crunch + bonus  = winning meal plan. Choose one from each category and let them eat it their way at lunch!

Color

  • Apple slices
  • Orange segments
  • Grapes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Bell pepper slices

Protein

  • Nut or seed butter
  • Sliced ham or turkey
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Hummus

Crunch

  • Whole-grain chips or crackers
  • Celery sticks
  • Baby carrots
  • Popcorn
  • Cucumber slices

Bonus

  • Yogurt
  • Applesauce
  • Fruit strip
  • String cheese

 

Snack Time Success

Fancy Ants on a Log

A tiny victory is a snack you can feel good about. These four favorites earn high-fives all around.

  1. (Air) popped rocks! Start with air-popped popcorn and toss with grated cheese or cinnamon sugar.
  2. Fruit dippers. Serve cut fruit with yogurt to dip.
  3. Open-face grahamwich. Spread nut or seed butter onto graham crackers and top with sliced bananas, apples or berries.
  4. Fancy ants on a log. Swap peanut butter and raisins for almond butter, pumpkin seeds and halved grapes.

Delicious Dinners

My three-year-old has her favorite dinners, and I haven’t had luck with introducing wholesome replacements. However by simply enhancing her favorites with veggies and whole grains (tiny victories!), she gets the flavors she wants and the nutrients she needs. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Polka dot mac. Mac & cheese + frozen peas.
  2. Chicka boom burritos. Whole wheat tortillas + shredded rotisserie chicken + baby spinach.
  3. Squashy sketti. Spaghetti squash + tomato sauce.
  4. Crouching carrot sly grilled cheese. Bread + cheese + carrot ribbons.

Make healthy eating a fun, monthly challenge with Whole Kids Foundation (WKF) and "Better Bites," a resource that focuses on one small change, like switching to whole grains, eating a rainbow and finding value in the bulk bins. Just follow the link, choose your monthly challenge and start your journey to better health with the whole family.

Hungry for more? Find kid-friendly tips, menu plans and tested recipes at wholefoodsmarket.com/kid-friendly.

Got your kid to eat something healthier? Share and celebrate your small wins! Add your tiny victory to our Facebook page by August 23rd and you could win a Whole Foods Market® gift card.

I’d love to hear more about your tiny victories in the comments below.

 

11 Comments

Comments

Heidi says ...
I'm a type 1 diabetic, and the best way I've been able to have "normal" blood sugar levels is by eliminating wheat out of my diet. Try reading Wheat Belly and Dr. Berstein's Diabetes Solution. Whole wheat raises even normal people's spike in insulin more so than a tablespoon of sugar. The more insulin a body produces, the more fat and visceral fat is accumulated in the body, even for non-diabetics. I will always agree with Non-GMO foods, vegetables, fruits and protein for lasting energy and clarity.
08/15/2013 11:36:59 AM CDT
Eric J Hodges says ...
For my five year old daughter, who seems to be liking less and less green veggies, I purchase WF organic rigatoni and their frozen organic broccoli florets. After cooking I smash the broccoli, mix it with some organic WF olive oil, garlic and their Italian blend cheese. Then I "stuff" the rigatoni with the broc/cheese mix and presto "Stuffed Cheesy Rigatoni" for dinner!
08/15/2013 4:58:47 PM CDT
Sandy says ...
Small victories - one of my kids is a really picky eater. thru the summer we challenged him to eat a variety of proteins, complex carbs, veggies and fruit. With some creativity and patience we can now send him off to kindergarten empowered to make healthier choices for a nutrious lunch! Now he will eat brown rice, quinoa and grilled chicken!!! Now we just need more variety than corn and carrots as veggies...but it's the Small Victories right!?
08/15/2013 9:14:36 PM CDT
Jan says ...
Try, try again. Sometime one mix of food doesn't hit our infants pallete. But try a different combo and she'll gulp it down!
08/17/2013 8:01:13 PM CDT
Janice says ...
I put his food on a special, fun plate just for him, like Elmo. Tonight he even asked for peas on his Elmo plate as a snack!
08/17/2013 9:09:34 PM CDT
Mary W says ...
Cut up veggies with hummus dip and whole grain chips like those from Food Should Taste Good. Good snacking alternatives to traditional chip and dip or snacking on junk.
08/18/2013 10:41:33 AM CDT
michelle brunello says ...
I have available single serve peanut butter cups, and single serve hummus along with sliced apples and mini carrots so the kids can pack them in their lunches. This way their getting some good carbs and protein.
08/18/2013 10:45:57 AM CDT
Susan P. says ...
My girls were allowed to play with their food and loved to make mashed potato volcanoes and stick peas into the sides. They both turned out to be foodies!
08/18/2013 1:20:41 PM CDT
patricia caradonna says ...
My family really enjoys fruit so I have a big fruit bowl on the counter. They can have a piece of fruit whenever they want.
08/19/2013 11:53:57 PM CDT
Kristy M says ...
Boiled some Yukon gold potatoes and hopped cauliflower in chicken broth, drained, and then mashed it all together to make healthy "mashed potatoes". Teenager got seconds before I told him what was in it.
08/21/2013 7:51:50 PM CDT
Rose says ...
Make veggies something unexpected....for example, frozen peas become kibble, so play being a dog and eating food like your dog (and he loves it right!). Serve it in a bowl like a dog bowl and see it disappear. Or, broccoli florets become trees and they're a giant who eats trees whole........wumph..it's gone!
08/21/2013 11:37:14 PM CDT