Do you often have battles with kids over what to eat? They would jump at a chance for pizza, crackers, donuts, cookies, French fries, soda; but at the same time even just a simple apple or carrot is shunned. And chances are, you are running faster and harder to keep up with everything and have less time and patience to help them.
You are not alone. The obesity levels among children are alarming. Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are now more common in adolescents and teenagers than in decades past and we are actually getting requests for these materials. TV and video games converge with high-calorie density palatable foods and busy parents to make the struggle of healthy for kids tougher.
We wanted to share 7 of our No Battles Better Eating Lessons to help you help parents, teachers and childcare providers to help kids make better choices and love the right foods. Our engaging activities are designed to make fun quality time for all, rather than a battle. We believe everyone should enjoy their food.
1. Smell It
Fresh herbs engage many people. How fun to take a leaf, rub it between your fingers, or chop on a block, and have a wonderful aromatic smell. Best bet? MINT! It is in their favorite candy and can go in home made tea, on top of fruits, in salads and tabouleh. Start learning about herbs together - smell them in the store, buy a new one each week, grow them in the summer.
Mint Tea, Salad
2. Bake It
Banana Mini MuffinsChocolate Chip Cookies for Kids
A great icebreaker, and snack maker, is to bake muffins. They can be a snack on the go, breakfast, dessert. Of course you don't want to eat 12 in one day. But you get the idea. We find they love to bake, and then take to school. We have also included a cookie recipe. Reason: if you want them, don't buy them; make them! It cuts down on cookie snacking and baking is a fun and positive way for all kids to help in the kitchen.
3. Make It
The end goal should be in mind. Do you really want them going into the world without knowing how to cook a decent dinner? No one has time for cooking lessons. But they do have to make dinner and it is great to make it a family affair when you can.
- A 2 year old can help set the table or stir lettuce in a bowl.
- A 5 year old can make fruit plates.
- A 10 year old can be responsible for packing their own lunch every day - do it the night before.
- A 13 year old can make dinner. After they learn to cook, let them plan and execute a great dinner.
If you start cooking more at home and teaching them to help - you get a built in helper, a healthier kid, more quality time, less money and running around and better meals for all. And here is a really fun idea - eat dinner in their room! One night my son had a chef's table in his room for my birthday. On nights that he has a lot of homework we eat in his room while he works at his desk.
Tortilla Pizza for Kids to MakeBeware of Kid's Restaurant Meals - Calories Given
4. Buffet It
We had a huge turn in better eating when I began making a buffet. While an all-you-can-eat buffet in a restaurant is usually a recipe for disaster, it is a great idea at home! Why? Because you can cook a variety of healthy dishes to eat over a few days. Everyone loves to come to the kitchen and fill their plate with their favorite healthy food. And you can serve "just healthy stuff" so they eat more of that. Pasta, lean chicken, many veggies, salad, fruit. It is festive, it is fun, and they might surprise you with what they start putting on their plates when it is their idea.
Here is a Roasted Buffet Dinner
5. Assemble It
Tacos, burritos, baked potatoes, salads - put out the healthy ingredients to make these and let them make their own. Everyone loves to be creative - even the picky eaters. And a comment like, "wow yours looks the tastiest" goes a long way in positive reinforcement.
Make Your Own Fajitas
6. Ready It
Slowly but surely the donuts, crackers and cookies can disappear. The baby carrots, diced peaches, apples, watermelon, yogurt, nut butter sandwiches and more can be ready in the refrigerator. A beautiful bowl of bananas is on the table. Change them up so you don't get bored! If it is ready, it will get eaten - the path of least resistance is the surest way to better habits.
Fruit Ready Now in PicturesMore Healthy Snacks for Familes
7. Earn It
The most surefire way to a better appetite is to burn more calories - run, walk, play - limit screen time.
More Activity Ideas for Families
We hope you have found these useful. If you have a fun way to keep your kids engaged let us know and we will share.
Here is our new book, No Battles Better Eating - it is all about having fun with kids in the kitchen. Engage and they will follow!
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.