Getting Kids to Make Healthy Choices

This post was recently featured on Classic Play.  Editor, Jen Cooper is one of the founders and designers of Ellie Bellie Kids! Take a moment to stop at her table and see the amazing kids products! We especially love the crown that tells your kid’s story!

kid's brekfast

Often I get asked the question, “How do you get your kids to eat so well?”  It could be that they’ve been raised with good food and a variety of foods since they were young.  They were exposed early on to different flavors.  At the age of two it was pretty normal for our kids to be eating avocados and hummus.  They would quickly move onto finger foods such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and red peppers.  I found that if it was colorful and small and came with a dip of some sort, it would get eaten!  Little ramekins are a mom’s best friend.  It makes the food more manageable and not so overwhelming as a plate piled with food.  I’d slice grilled chicken and offer it with a dip of yogurt.  Or a favorite around here is the “snackable lunch” which is a healthier version of a pre packaged snackable.  I pull out a large platter (I have five kids) and I slice up salami or some kind of hard smoked sausage.  I also slice up hard cheddar, put out a whole grain cracker, veggies and a choice of honey mustard or peanut butter.  I pile on some grapes and strawberries or apple slices.  They each get a small plate and spend time creating their own lunches.

healthy lunchable

Another thing that I think helps children eat healthy is to give them choices.  They love to feel in control. Now, by choices I don’t mean you let them stand in front of the refrigerator at dinner and choose what you are going to make for them! I am no short order cook!  But, I do mean, when you set out a tray loaded with healthy choices, they feel in control, they don’t realize that any choice they make is a good one and they have fun eating!

I think another thing that helps my kids make good choices with their eating is I don’t have “no zones”.  So many moms I meet, that want their kids to eat healthy, don’t have a single crumb of sugar in the house.  You may think you’re controlling their world and you may very well be!  You may have compliant kids who all through their lives will take your word for it…never try the sugar and be amazingly, well balanced eaters.  Or you may have the kind of kids that the moment they hit the school cafeteria, they buddy up with the tasty cake, ho ho, Twinkie packed lunch box kid and enjoy some bad for your body stuff while you’tr not looking.  Chances are if you have multiple kids, like I do, you’ll have a mix!  So, our solution is to offer up lots of choices in the way of candy, but in small portions.

I have come up with the candy drawer, healthy snack drawer solution in my house.  The healthy snack drawer is loaded with granola bars, dried fruits, nuts, multi grain cereal bars, etc…

healthy snack drawer

healthy snacks

The candy drawer looks like this.

candy drawer

The drawer is kept stocked with individual size pieces of candy.  Both drawers are easy to reach.  If they are hungry they know at any time they can get a piece of fruit or vegetable without asking.  But, if they want a “snack” they ask.  I say, ‘Yes, you can have something out of the healthy drawer.”  Or if it’s after lunch, I may surprise them and say, “You can pick two things out of the candy drawer.”  And, again, they have choices without realizing I have helped them to make good ones.

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  1. I am so with you on this one! I have one very picky eater, one adventurous eater, and one that’s in the middle of these two. Giving them the control over picking a healthy meal over a different healthy meal is the way to go!

    However, I think it’s safe to say that none of them would ever try roasted seaweed for a snack. Just sayin’. 🙂

  2. Kristin says:

    I was shocked to find out my kids love roasted seaweed! They had it at a friend’s house and I have a hard time keeping it in ours! Ya never know!

  3. LOVED this post. I couldn’t agree more, totally what I try to do with my kids.

  4. Great tips! I get my kids to eat healthy by limiting processed items in our house. We have treats but not cabinets full of junk. We always have tons of fruits and vegetables for them to choose from.

  5. Great posts! The beauty of how you arranged the platters/drawers is so appealing. I have a collection of little bowls and ramekins that I use and I’ve also designated a drawer in the fridge and a shelf in the freezer for snacks.

  6. So true…give them choices! It goes a long way. I too serve a lot of fresh veggies, etc. with dip to make them a bit more enticing. My theory is that even if they only eat a few fresh veggies, it is “worth” more than a plateful of the canned ones. Love the idea of the candy drawer with small single serving sizes!

  7. Love this post! It’s going on my “Friday favorites” this week. 😉

  8. Can I come over? Your healthy snack drawer looks awesome!

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