Are you trying to make some healthy changes and get your picky eater on board? I know my title says “kids” but these tips can work on your spouse, partner, family member, and even yourself. I often post ideas on my Instagram @eat_clean_play_dirty that are titled “eat like a toddler.” These ideas aren’t just for toddlers though. Eating clean and healthy shouldn’t be boring and it shouldn’t be hard work. Sometimes we all get into a rut though or stuck in our old ways and these tips below can help shake yourself and your friends and loved ones out of the old mindset and into a new one.
1. Try Try, Try again
I’ve heard data that it takes anywhere from 10-40 tries to get a kid to try something new. Daunting I know, but just keep offering and don’t get discouraged. Also their tastes will change so just because they love something today doesn’t mean they will tomorrow. Also this works on adults. I have tried brussel sprouts over and over again hoping to like them. I realize now that I like them finely cut and mixed into other greens and then sauteed. If at first you don’t succeed...
Branch out to different color food. This is easy for fruit but not often thought about for veggies. My kid loves the multi colored baby potatoes and rainbow carrots. Also there is rainbow swiss chard, purple and orange cauliflower, purple beans, white and purple asparagus, frozen veggie mixes, multi colored peppers, etc. Note: some of these veggies lose their awesome color when cooked so make sure your kids help shop and prepare before cooking. Carrots and potatoes keep the best color in my opinion.
Just because they don’t like meat or veggies cooked one way, doesn’t mean they won’t like another. Play around with roasting, pan frying, mashing, pureeing, steaming, shredding, and raw for veggies. Also don’t forget about spiralizing! You can do it yourself or find a lot of premade options now. You can spiralize sweet potato, beets, zucchini, and carrots just to name a few. Also try different cuts, seasonings, etc.
Here’s the time to get creative. There’s a lot of fun cookie cutters out there that you can use on a variety of food. Think about ground meat in different shapes, fruit in different shapes, as well as veggie slices. We like heart and star cucumbers around here :) Also play with cutting up their food ahead of time in different sizes. For meat I like making kabobs (always fun and easy for you) and spiral cutting sausages or hot dogs on a kabob.
5. Get them involved
For the older kiddos, get them involved. Not only are you teaching them great skills but they are much more likely to make something they help prepare. My toddler loves to help stirring just about anything. There’s a cool ceramic knife set available now to teach young chefs. Also bring them shopping and help them pick out your ingredients.
6. Don’t stock up on the bad stuff
Just don’t keep it in your house. During our transition we just don’t restock any of the things we want to get rid of. It’s much more gradual and my daughter seems to quickly forget about some things. For myself it just makes it easier to not be tempted in my own home.
7. Pick your battles
For me, I am much more lenient when we travel, visit friends, or even with daycare. I feel good knowing that things are cleaner at home and it’s an experience and memory when she’s not eating at home. I let her have fun and don’t stress that much when we are with family. I prepare when I can but overall you have to give yourself grace. Decide what’s best for you and your family.
8. Don’t let your preferences determine theirs
My husband hates red cabbage, mushrooms and kimchi but our daughter loves them. I’m not a fan of things like calamari, oysters, and organ meat but I let her try whenever possible. Preferences change over time and with different preparation methods so keep an open mind for yourself and your little ones.