FEATWhen I tell parents that my kids not only eat, but love kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, they can’t believe it. Over the years, I’ve discovered some tried and true methods to get my kids to eat new foods. They have both developed a diverse palette that ensures that they are getting the nutrition they need but can pass on that knowledge to friends and future generations.

My husband and I both have siblings that refuse to eat anything green and prefer their food fried. We both vowed to break the cycle of picky eaters when we had children of our own. There are still going to be things your kids don’t like, heck as an adult we all have something we would rather skip, but the point is that we tried it to come to that conclusion.

Here are 8 ways to get your kids to enjoy a broad range of foods.

  1.      Plant a garden. A few years ago we planted a garden in our backyard and each year our children help us plant, take care of, and harvest the fruits and vegetables. This is an excellent way to teach children how and where we get our food. If you can’t start your own big garden, you can try container gardening or even find a community garden in your area.
  1.      Try something new. Start making regular visits to your local farmers market or international market to discover new foods. A friend of mine turned me on to this concept. Take your kids to pick out something new and then find a recipe on how to cook it. You may be trying something new yourself!
  1.      Let your kids cook. My kids love helping me in the kitchen. They are learning a valuable skill, and they are excited to try the food they made. It’s an easy way to get kids to eat healthily.
  1.      Don’t give in. Don’t make your children a different dinner than your own. You are setting yourself and them up for failure. Not to mention you are adding extra work for yourself. “You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit!” Or in this case, if you don’t eat what’s on your plate, then you don’t eat anything at all.
  1.      The one bite rule. I don’t expect my kids to love everything I feed them, but I do expect them to try it in order to make that judgment. We have a one-bite rule where they have to try a bite of each thing on their plate. 85% of the time, they like it and eat it.
  1.      Keep trying. Statistically, you have to give a child something at least 10 times for your taste buds to determine if they like it. Just because they didn’t enjoy it the first or second time, keep trying! Cook it in different ways also.
  1.      Stop ordering from the children’s menu. No matter what type of restaurant you go to; they always have the same kid’s menu. It consists of things like cheeseburgers, mac & cheese, chicken fingers, and pizza. Those items are served with fries and only recently has a veggie or orange slices been introduced as an option. I now encourage my kids to order something off the adult menu because there are more healthy options to choose from. Besides, who goes out for Mexican food and orders pizza?! The adult portions are large enough sometimes to be split between two people also.
  1.      Limit snacking. We don’t keep junk food in the house because everyone has binge eating tendencies (my family included). We keep lots of healthier snack option available for after school snacking like yogurt, granola, and fruits. They give the kids a boost of energy after a draining day at school, but if they eat too much, they may not eat their dinner. Portion control is necessary for those in-between snacks.

The most important thing to remember is that you lead by example. If you’re eating a healthy balanced diet, then your kids will have no problem trying them too. Stick with it. It can be tough with a picky eater but I was able to turn my oldest around, and now she helps me harvest kale from the garden and cook it for dinner.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Stonyfield. The content provided, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If you have any questions about health or nutrition, we always think it’s best to consult with your doctor or healthcare practitioner.