I am not a great dinner maker. I can rock baking, but you know it isn’t healthy to serve up cake for dinner. As a mom with 3 small children, healthy eating is important to me. I wish it went over better when I announce the nightly vegetable but Miles becomes hysterical when the word dinner is spoken and Sophia asks how many bites she has to have. Violet is 2 so thank goodness she still eats everything in sight. I have a couple of tricks that help but I want to say right up front – the most important thing is to keep trying and not give up. I know very few parents with great veggie eaters. One kid might like baby carrots, one may like peas, another broccoli but overall kids struggle with the concept of a balanced diet because there is usually one food group they aren’t a fan of at any given moment. Put on that smile and do what you can but don’t beat yourself up. Here’s a few things that sometimes work for us.
Make Vegetables Cool
Make up a song, rap your way through taking bites, or come up with characters. Do anything to teach your kids that veggies do awesome things for our bodies. They help our hair grow long, make us strong, help us see and totally make us grow tall enough to ride the big kid rides at theme parks. Not only do they rock our bodies, but boy do they come in cool colors. Make a veggie rainbow. See if they can name veggies. Games are a big hit with my kids and I want them to know what a balanced diet is. I am not saying they love the taste of all veggies, but they are curious about taking bites and then measuring themselves so we are making progress.
Don’t Give Veggies a Bad Name
If you teach your kids that vegetables are so bad that if they get eaten rewards will come, kids might just think they are nasty. I totally heard this on the radio a few years ago and it stuck with me. As much as we talk about the reasons we want to eat healthy and all the awesome things that veggies can do for us, if we tell our kids that they get treats for eating them they get the message that you eat the bad to get the good. I know some people may disagree, but I’ve taken the treats away from the meal. We eat dinner together and they eat or they don’t eat. What we struggle with is drama at the table, so we try to eliminate the stress that comes from eating one thing to get another. Dinner is what we make and if you don’t want it that is up to you, but you may not throw a fit at the table. Not having a treat “on the table” is helping the kids to look at the plate of food they have and not spend the entire meal negotiating bites for a treat. Then a treat is special and a little surprise and everyone gets it.
Give them What they Want
I know we have all heard that our kids won’t starve themselves. I agree, but I still want them to eat some dinner. There are things they like and things they don’t. We try to put something they like on the plate. A little pasta with the meat and veggies goes a long way towards a meal that starts out with calm eating. Usually what they like takes the form of some pasta and some fruit along with the meat and veggies. Of course, and this is a fact, I always keep Tyson’s chicken nuggets in my freezer for an easy meat they they all will love! Then I just say they cannot have seconds of what they love until they have finished their plate.
Eat When the Kids are Hungry
My best tip for getting kids to eat a well balanced diet is actually to feed it to them when they are hungry. For my kids, this is between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Yes, I believe family dinners are important, but it is no the food as much as the family time we need. So, rather than feed my kids another snack when they start to claw at the cabinets and moan that they are starving, I serve up a little din din. It just did not work to wait until 6 o’clock for us. By that time my non napping little ones are crabby and getting tired and WAY too hungry. We do a lot of family meals. They aren’t all dinner. We always do the post-dinner routine together and if my husband eats after us we can sit in the kitchen with him and chat or color and just be a family.
Tell them How Awesome they Are
Kids love praise. I am a freaking cheerleader at the table. They get wahoos and wows and oh look how awesome you ares while they eat. Then I get to see them giggle and smile and hopefully take another bite…and then another. This tip works for a lot of things. I’ve heard it called positive reinforcement. Yeah, it works.
Share Your Tips with Tyson
Tyson sponsored this post and I was more than happy to share a few of my tips that work for getting my kids to eat a well balanced diet. I want to hear yours too!
Before you give me your tips, be sure to check out Tyson’s Get a Smile, Give a Smile contest. Upload a picture of your child enjoying a chicken nugget with a caption that shows the love and your little one could be featured in People magazine, Parents magazine and on a Times Square Billboard! Tyson is doing their part to help give the same smiles your kids have when their bellies are full and happy. They are donating 4 million meals to hungry families. They are fighting a battle that is much harder than getting kids to eat healthy. They are helping families who struggle to provide meals at all. I am proud to be a part of helping spread the word on the Get a Smile, Give a Smile campaign.
Thanks to Tyson’s 100% All Natural Chicken Nuggets, now you don’t have to choose between making your kids happy and feeding them balanced meals.
But I’m curious, how do you ensure your child maintains a balanced diet? Join the conversation and Tyson will select a winner and donate $500 in the winner’s name to a local food bank!