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It is well-known that kids can be picky eaters. While you might get the occasional child who is happy to eat spinach and Brussels sprouts, those champion eaters tend to be the exception to the rule.
If you work with children who would rather eat cookies than carrots, consider the following five strategies to encourage the kids you teach to eat healthy foods:
1. Avoid tricks
Sometimes it feels like getting vitamins and nutrients into your students needs to happen whether they like it or not. But while it may be tempting to try to sneak healthy foods into familiar dishes, tricking them into eating these alternatives is a bad decision in the long run. The kids will either not realize that they like the new food because they don't know it's there, or find out that they were tricked and treat any future food with suspicion.
2. Involve your kids
A better strategy is to familiarize your kids with these new foods by having them lend a hand in the kitchen. That way, when they see the options on their plate, the foods won't seem as foreign.
If possible, consider taking a trip to a local farm or market to show your kids where the food they eat comes from.
3. Don't rush new foods
When a child has been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch, suddenly introducing a quinoa bowl packed with veggies may be understandably off-putting. Instead of going all or nothing with new options, introduce one unfamiliar food at a time. If necessary, space these healthy choices out. You might even add some excitement by creating a "food of the week," where you learn about a new thing to eat before trying it.
4. Limit the options
What sounds better - a chocolate chip cookie or a handful of celery sticks? While the options may not always be that drastic, kids are more likely to choose what they already know and like. Consider just offering one snack.
Or you can use options to your advantage by creating a shelf completely full of healthy choices. That way the children feel empowered because they have a say in what they eat, but they have to decide on something healthy.
5. Have fun
Finally, make eating healthy food fun. Arrange a plate full of vegetables into interesting shapes or turn whole-wheat pancakes into smiley faces. If a snack looks appealing, your kids will be more inclined to enjoy the food.
Learn more about working with kids through online childcare courses from ProSolutions Training.