6 Ways to Get Your Family to Eat and Enjoy Healthy Food

Registered Dietician

| 4 min read

During the Body and Soul Challenge Midpoint Event at Eastern Market last week, there was one question I kept getting asked. And that question was:
How do you get your family to eat fruits and vegetables?
I responded in many different ways since “because I said so” does not always work.

Use Logic

Explain to your family that fruits and vegetables are keys to the well-being of the body. Discuss the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and good nutrition that can be found in these colorful delights.
This can be done in a fun way.One of my colleagues has a son that loves trucks and cars. Therefore any food with fiber – like fruits and vegetables – he calls “street sweepers”, because it cleans his insides. How cute is that?

Lead the Way

Show your family how important fruits and veggies are to you, that way you can inspire them to feel the same way. The daily influence on your children is more impactful than you may realize. Incorporate fruits and veggies throughout the day – at all meals and during snack time.

Keep Them Handy

Keep the fruit bowl out and full with already washed fruit for the kids to grab. Have vegetables pre-washed, cut up and available in the refrigerator. Don’t hide them in the bottom drawers where they are forgotten. Fruits and vegetables are nature’s fast food, so grab them and go.

Get Kids Involved

Have your family participate in shopping for fruit and vegetables at the grocery store or start a garden this summer. Let the kids pick out the vegetables you need and when you get home, have them help in the kitchen by cleaning and cooking with you. Talk about it and say something like, “Remember, this is the broccoli you helped me pick out at the grocery store. Will you help me wash it?”
Once it is prepared, you can take it a step further at the dinner table by reminding your kids that this is the broccoli they picked out at the store, cleaned and cooked. This participation makes them feel invested in the broccoli and more likely to try it.
The family that plays together, cooks together and eats together will be happier and healthier together, too.

Make It Fun

Research proves that it takes 20 to 30 times of trying a certain food before you acquire a taste for it. When I was a kid, my mom made a poster board and we received stars every time we tried a new food. Before we could ever say we didn’t like something, we had to try it 30 times and get 30 stars. At the end, there was a space on the poster board for us to write down whether we would eat it again.
Needless to say, I eat everything now and my love for food is strong.

Be Sneaky If You Need To

If none of the above ideas work, try sneaking in fruits and vegetables to their favorite foods. I do this with meatloaf by adding at least 2 cups of finely chopped or shredded veggies to every pound of meat. Not only does it add more nutrients, but this process also adds moisture.
Every Thanksgiving, I am in charge of the mashed potatoes. Little does my family know that they are getting mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower and white beans too. So a once very carb-filled dish is now packed with nutrients, protein and fiber.
My dessert recipe I borrowed from Oprah – it’s brownies with carrots and spinach. The beauty of the chocolate color is it hides the orange carrots and the green spinach. Trust me your kids won’t even know there is vegetables in there – it’s that good.
My husband was not a fruit and vegetable eater when we first met. So, I made it into a game to appeal to his fun and competitive side. Now our target is to consume a rainbow of fruit and vegetable colors daily. For example, we have red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, and white/brown produce daily to win. Now, I can’t get him to stop texting me when he eats his fruits and vegetables.
You know your family best, so use that knowledge to influence them to eat healthier, more nutritious foods.
Photo Credit: wildeyedboy

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