Hungry Minds: Healthy Kids

I wish there was a way to get kids to  eat  every  vegetable,  but  it's difficult. There is, however, a way to get most kids to  eat  7  of  fruits and veggies! Over the years, I have experimented and  found  ways  to  increase  a child's desire for healthy foods, but one simple technique has proven to be effective nearly all of the time. So many  parents are constantly  trying  to force-feed veggies to kids by telling them, "They are good for you!" or "You'll grow up big and strong!", but there is a problem with that - Kids don't really care about  those  benefits  at  their  age ,  and  there  are  too  many  unhealthy, "yummier" options.   What  does "they  are  good  for  you" even  mean  to  a child?   Not   much.    It  isn't  a  concept  that kids  can  fully  comprehend.    So while parents mean well, we need to recognize that kids think on a different level, and  they  don't  want  to  just  take  your  word  for  it,  especially  with food.

Kids  are  learning  machines.  They  need   to   absorb  information   intellectually and  visually  in  order   to  accept  and   apply  it.    As  an  adult,  I  know  what foods are good for me, and  why!   That is the  key -  the "WHY." Kids ALWAYS want to know why, and a simple  "because  I said  so"  just  won't  do. With  all  of  the  good  tasting  junk  food  options  out  there,  kids  need  to   hear the  actual  reasons   why  eating  healthy  is  important,  and  why   junk   food  can be  bad  for   you.    Fulfilling  a  child's  "why"  will  give  them  the  information they  need  to  start  makin$ good  dietary  choices  on  their  own.   In  my  home, it  began with "superhero juice; freshly squeezed juice made up  of  mostly spinach or collard  greens,  kale,  ginger,  beets/ beet  greens,  and  occasionally carrots  or  a  green  apple  for  a  toudi.  of  sweetness.    This   juice  is  potent enough to  scare  most adults  away!   At  first ,  my  kids  saw   me  drinkin_g   the juice, and like most kids , they wanted whatever  I  was  having.  The  first  sip resulted in a firm "EW! Mom,  why  are  you  drinking  that?"  Well,  if  I  had replied with a "because it is good for me," that would've been the end of  it! Instead, I replied , "This is  a  superfood  drink,  and  only  superfood  heros can  drink   it ."    Interest  spiked,  because  what  kid  isn't  up  for  becoming  a hero?   Eating  healthy  certainly  makes  you  a  hero  in  my  book!   Next,  I provided them with some of the  ingredients,  and  their  "powers."  Here  are  a couple of examples:

Kale - "This is the king of  all  the  vegetables!  It  is  one  of  the  strongest, because it has so many vitamins  and  minerals!  One  of  these  vitamins  is Vitamin   K.    Vitamin K helps  to  make  sure  your  blood  is  strong  and  that your heart is strong. A strong heart means you will be able to  run  fast  at school, and still have energy to give  lots of love to everyone around you!" Carrots - Show them when you slice a carrot it looks round , like an eye.

Because  it   has  beta -ca ro tene   and  lutein,  this  veggie  has  the   ability  to  help them see better at night! There  are  a  lot  of  healthy  foods  that  look  like  the organs they help (walnuts/brain, tomatoes/heart, kidney beans/kidneys, onions/skin, etc.).  Kids  love  this!

My kids became so intrigued by  responses  like these, that  they  began  asking me  about  EVERY  fruit  and  vegetable.   "Hey  mom,  what  does  this  have  in it?" and "What does that do for  me?"  Of  course,  responses  require  some education and creativity. The ability  to  quickly  Google  their  questions  on  a phone certainly helps! Answers will vary,  depending  on  a  child's  age  and interests.  I'm  not  telling  you  to  trick   them,  but   be  creative  and  appeal  to each child's interests. Don't ever feel like you are giving them too much information,  or  that  your  answers  are  over  their  heads.  I've  found  that  the more detailed and educated  answers  I've given  them,  the  more success  we've had. Sometimes, they don't even fully understand,  but  the  answer  sounds  so smart to them, that 1t  must  be  true,  and  they  gobble  the  veggie  in  question right  up!  As  for  the  superhero  juice,  I  can't  make  it  without  all  of  my  kids, as  well  as  the  neighbor  kids  begging  for  a  glass!  Younger  kids  are  even easier to convince,  because  when  they  see older siblings doing something, they'll  want  to  participate  too  -  half  of  your  job  is  done!   Remember,  it doesn't happen  overnight ,  and  depending  on  the  child,  it  might  take some time.  Be  a  good   example,  and   be  persistent   in   educating   and   intriguing your child's hungry  mind. Once  they  get  a  taste  of  all  the  things  healthy foods  have  to  offer  (educationally  and  physically),  they  will feast  on  them for life!

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