Convincing the Kids

So you are thinking of adapting a healthier lifestyle?  Convincing the kids can be a daunting task.  I get it.  I have toddlers.  I know they can be a tough crowd when it comes to healthy eating.  However, they can be taught.  Here are a few things that helped our family with my 3 year old.  Even now I am not saying it is always easy, but we have made progress.

1. Start them young.  If they are not introduced to junk food early on, they will probably be more likely to make healthy choices.  My 3 year old happily eats whole grain bread because she was never given a choice of white bread.  I was not raised on soda and I have never liked it.  We also reserve juice for only special occasions like birthday parties.

2.  Have them help in the shopping and with the preparation of  food.  When we are at the store, I let my daughter pick out the fruits and veggies that she wants.  Also, she helps me prep the food and very often, she will be munching on veggies the whole time.

3.  Hide “healthy” choices in their food.  Such as brown rice or quinoa pasta in place of white.  Or in baked goods I always bake with whole grains instead of white flours.  She usually can’t tell the difference.  You also can sneak veggies into a smoothie or in homemade pasta sauce.

4  Make some of their favorite foods healthier.  You can do baked chicken fingers, baked sweet potato fries and homemade mac and cheese with whole grain pasta.

5.  Offer the same healthy food more than once.  We had always offered my daughter organic tofu and she never ate it.  Today she finally tried it and liked it!  Every time she ends up liking a food she was afraid to try, I make a HUGE deal out of it and show her that sometimes you have to try new things before you realize what you like.

38 thoughts to “Convincing the Kids”

  1. Love this post! I totally agree about offering things repeatedly. When my kids heard that there would be no more meat in our spaghetti, they made a fuss over it. But once they actually tasted it, they liked it. Black beans replaced the meat, and I used those along with refried beans in tacos too. They were actually both happy with just the black beans in the spaghetti, and sometimes I would add a little cheese into the mix too. Now we have a rule that they have to try everything I make at least once. If they don't like it, then they can have something else - but they DO have to try it. I have seen them make a huge fuss over many foods I've made, but then once they actually try it, there are "YUM MOM!"s all of the way around. Silly little kiddlies! I'd also encourage moms & dads to try different versions of a certain product you might introduce to your kiddlies too. My son HATED rice milk, coconut milk & soy milk, but likes almond milk just fine. And there is only 1 brand in 1 flavor that he likes. So I'd encourage everyone to try and try again. :-)
    1. Love this advice too! My daughter hates regular milk, but loves all the nut, oat, coconut and rice milks. Lately, we have been buying hemp milk, but most of it contains sugar, so I am going to try to start making my own. We have a similar rule in our house about taking at least one bite. There are still some foods that are tough to get her to like. Like avocado. That is, until I hide it in a pudding. Sometimes you gotta just throw it in a kid friendly package and they buy it hook line and sinker. LOL. Why do you think I have so many donuts on my blog? She has no idea they are loaded with healthy stuff. :)
  2. Oh! I forgot to mention that when we went meatless (we eat some now, but are trying to get our consumption back down again), I needed to find an alternative to tuna that my kids would like. I just so happened to get it right on the first try. Chickpeas all mashed up, then mixed in with mayo, just like you would regular tuna fish. THEY LOVE IT! We affectionately call it "tuney" and it's a great substitute for tuna (which I believe many are no longer wild caught - they come from factory farms where they are fed a diet of GMO corn to help them grow bigger faster). And the wild caught ones are probably all nasty now from the radiation that is STILL leaking from Fukashima. Just something to think about.
    1. OMG what a fabulous idea!! I am so going to try that. My daughter has always been kind of leery about tuna, but she may like the chickpea version. Even if she doesn't, I am going to try it.
  3. I'm addicted to your blog now. I love this post too even though I don't have kids. I re-post a lot of your blogs. So happy to have found it! Keep up the awesome work!!
    1. Thank you for reading and for the compliments! Comments like this are why I do what I do. I love that I may be helping others live a healthier life. :)
  4. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful advice! I really enjoy your blog and website! I am totally new to all of this, but I have young toddlers, and I really want to start making changes in our eating. Your site is helping me tremendously to start making the changes. Although its slow and steady, its better than not at all! :)
    1. That is fantastic! Thanks for reading. I always say, "It doesn't matter how slow you go, you are still lapping those on the couch." Baby steps are just fine. We didn't change as a family overnight either. It can take some time to adjust. :)
  5. Hi -- I'm new to your blog and am loving it so far! I've always tried to "eat healthy" but have started to learn, through your site and others, how much crap is in the food that I thought was good for me, and I'm horrified.I don't have kids but would love to read a "convincing the spouse/partner" post. Mine is.... reluctant, to say the least, and his response last night when I explained to him the reasons behind some changes I'd like to make, he responded, "what does it matter, EVERYTHING causes cancer." And when I said I'd like us to get off sugar, you'd have thought I'd suggested we just stop eating entirely!
    1. It can be rough to make changes, especially if your spouse is reluctant. Thankfully, my husband was on board. He changed because he wanted to see as much of our daughter's lives that he could. His cholesterol was high and has since dropped 76 points! I would suggest you stand your ground and maybe just make baby steps towards changing. Maybe first, you can start making one thing you would normally buy processed. Or switch our white flour for white whole wheat flour. Technically, that is a whole grain and it could be an easy stepping stone. Does he read? Suggest reading Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food." That was an eye opener for us. Or, if he doesn't read, maybe you could watch Food Inc. It is not pro vegan at all. It just is a great documentary for how our food industry works. That movie was a game changer for a lot of folks. Thanks for reading the blog and I hope you can use some of these suggestions. :)
    2. I'm having a hard time convincing the spouse too, but now that we are going down to one income I think he'll come around. Eating healthier with less meat is so much cheaper! :)
  6. Great post! When we are at the store, especially Whole Foods, my 3 1/2 year old wants to "sample" all the pre-made salads and stuff near the deli. He is drawn by the colors, and normally choses things I would never have thought he would like. I love that no matter what it is, he gobbles it down because HE picked it. Sometimes, if it's a good one, I will buy a small container for him for later.
  7. After reading a lot of info from your blog, I went grocery shopping yesterday. I was able to find a local store that sells flour, sugar, unsweetened coconut in bulk bins. I noticed on your recipes that you use white whole wheat pastry flour, almond flour, spelt flour... Is there a specific one that is healthiest? Also, I noticed Bob's Red Mill had vital wheat gluten. Is this good to use, as we have no gluten issues? For sweetening, is coconut sugar a good choice or is it better to use raw honey or pure maple syrup? I am starting to print info and collect it in a binder to help me get started because I am at the, How do I even begin stage!! I keep looking around my kitchen and pantry and realize how much work I have to do to change. Today is my first morning of using almond milk in my coffee instead of the original Coffeemate creamer. Honestly, it is definitely not the same but I am hoping each day will get easier, as it did for you. I talked my six year old into trying a drink of almond milk and she started gagging. I tried a drink and didn't think it was that bad but I suppose she has only ever had 2%. Anyway, this is getting long so I will not add any more questions for now. Thanks again for your dedication to helping families like ours.
    1. Good for you for starting this journey! When we changed out diets, we did not do it all at once. Just a few things at a time so it was not so overwhelming. That is great about switching to almond milk. I know it is not the same, but trust me when I say, you will get used to it. It took me about a week to adjust to drinking coffee without sweetener. Now I am trying to switch from coffee to green tea. All of the flours I use are equally healthy if you don't have gluten issues. I don't use vital wheat gluten, except in some homemade bread recipes. It is not a necessary item. Coconut sugar is low on the gylcemic index, so it's a great choice for diabetics. Raw honey are very good as well since they have trace amounts of nutrients. Good luck and feel free to ask more questions if you need to. :)
      1. I went to the co-op today and bought some coconut sugar, unsweetened shredded coconut, dates (not the medjool though because they were twice the price), chia seeds, and some fruit. I didn't buy honey because I already have a large tub of it. It say's 100% pure honey and the only ingredient on the list is honey. Do you think this is okay? Is raw honey a lot healthier?? I picked up some free magazines on the way out and I keep seeing advertisements for Garden of Life raw protein formula. Do you know anything about it or use it? Thanks.
        1. Oh, also I just had to mention that my 12 year old is intrigued with what I have been learning (surprisingly) and has been spending time with me reading the processed foods exposed reviews by you. She quite seriously declared that she is never eating a Quaker granola bar again! :-)
        2. 100% honey is good, but raw honey is better because it contains trace nutrients - and if it's local, it can help with allergies. I love Garden of Life protein powder. This is the one I buy.
          1. Is the Garden of Life protein powder okay to put a smoothie for the kids? Also, I bought a loaf of Ezekiel bread and everyone loved it but it's a bit expensive. Have you found it for a decent price anywhere? I wonder if Costco has it? I have a bread maker and should probably to make my own. I can't remember if you have posted a basic bread recipe. I will check.
          2. Costco might have it. I have found it at Kroger for $2.50 before. In the frozen section. I don't know if you can give Garden of Life to kids. I would check with the company to be sure.
          3. Is raw honey unsafe at all for causing botulism? I know that honey is unsafe for children under one year, but wasn't sure if raw honey has any kind of warnings for consumption?
          4. I didn't give my daughter raw honey until she was 2. I'm not sure if there are any other warnings.
  8. I just wanted to let you know that I have been reading Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss for the last three days. I can barely put the book down! I also got a few Michael Pollan books and others that you recommended and the dvd of Food, Inc. is on it's way from Netflix! I bought some of the Nature's Path granola and everyone loves it. I am going to make some of your homemade granola next! Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with all of us.
      1. Now I have started Pollan's, In Defense of Food and am enjoying it a lot also. I watched Food, Inc. which was incredibly disturbing but so informative. My husband and 12 year old twins watched it with me which was great for getting all of them on board with these huge changes that I am making for us!
  9. Hey! I'm pouring through your website. I thought I was "up" on eating healthy and I've found some GREAT info on your page. I also made that apple bread loaf yesterday (no sugar!) and I loooooved it! My kids were always FANTASTIC eaters UNTIL they went off to school. We are always at some birthday party or family gathering where the kinds of foods we don't like them to eat are served. Any tips on getting around the school, birthday party, family function thing? Its not like these events are rare. My two girls went to five birthday parties in ONE WEEK this summer. ugh! Thanks!
    1. The birthday thing is tough. I try not to be too strict with them. So on birthdays they will get to have whatever treat that is offered. However, the last few times, my daughter has said that the treats were too sugary and made her stomach hurt. She is only 4, so that may change, but for now that is what I do. Glad you liked the apple bread!
  10. I came across your website for the first time last night, I honestly can't get enough!!! I told my boyfriend that I feel like I hit the jack pot! Love your Blog!
  11. I love love love your blog and I appreciate that you always take the time to answer your reader's questions!!! We're starting the journey also! I love to cook so that end of this is simple and I've been slowly replacing things as I go for the healthier alternative (butter, sugar, etc). The one thing I'm having the hardest time getting the kids to give up is their cereal. Any suggestions? And one really fun hurdle we have is a severe nut allergy in the family. I can't find any bulk bins that don't have trace amounts of nuts.Any help with this would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much for all the advise you give!
    1. Thanks Melissa! Kids can be a bit hard to change. It takes a long time. Would your kids eat granola or oatmeal? I have many recipes for those that could easily be done nut free. If you had to get a store bought brand of cereal, Nature's Path has a decent ingredient list.
  12. THANK YOU for your blog! yesterday I was told to change my eating habits and eat mostly vegetables for the time being, avoid sugar and starch. wow, how do i start? well by luck i found your site this morning. Very grateful!

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