If you're a parent like me, you've likely struggled with getting your kids to want good food choices. There are days when I wish junk food never touched their little lips. That spike from the sugar, the allure of so-called energy drinks, the appeal of every hellish food under the sun paraded across the TV screen — all formidable foes for a parent who cares about nutrition.
Why do kids prefer certain foods? And how can we motivate them to eat well?
As a parent, I don't simply want my kids to eat healthy food. I want them to like healthy food. I know ultimately, eating right things follows liking right things.
I also know what you probably know all too well. Kids who actually enjoy healthy foods may be less likely to join the growing number of their friends who struggle with weight and health problems. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the past 30 years.
So what can we do about it? How can we get our kids to like good food?
You've probably learned the hard way that being pushy doesn't work. Or the old bribe them with dessert if they eat their veggies trick. They're on to you. Besides, that's not what will inspire any meaningful transformation in their tastes anyway. Creating negative experiences around food choices will come back to bite us and only prolong the goal of change.
Often, a more sophisticated palette for healthy foods is something that has to be acquired. And it doesn't have to be a tussle. We can inspire our kids by leading them gently along, knowing that tastes adjust over time.
One of the most powerful things we can do as parents is create positive experiences around nutritious food. Simply enjoy healthy food around them. Be enthusiastic about it as you do. Get them involved in the preparation of food. Make it an adventure. Experiment with flavor combinations. Turn your kitchen into what Greg Nalley calls his: a "Flavor Lab." Take them grocery shopping. Lead them along on a wondrous journey down the produce aisle. Tell them where all these delicious foods come from. Tell funny stories. Visit a farmer's market. These activities can be positive experiences that make healthy foods appealing.
Visiting Nalley Fresh is another great idea. A regular date, a weekend treat — an adventure in point & pick — with nothing but great things to choose from. Show them how you personally Express Your Inner Chef ™ at Nalley Fresh. Guide them as you walk together along the choices in the point & pick line. As you do, you're creating a positive experience. You're normalizing the consumption of healthy food in a setting where many other people are too. You'll benefit from the social power of an environment where eating healthy is popular.
It really is possible to get kids to like healthy food. And Nalley Fresh makes it easy.