Identify Food Superpowers to Help Kids Eat Healthy
5-year-old Emily asked her Mom, “Can I have a cookie?”
Mom said, “Not until you finish your broccoli.”
Emily said, “I don’t want to finish my broccoli, broccoli is gross!”
Mom said, “Then no cookie.”
Emily starts to cry and throw a fit.
Eventually, Emily’s Mom gives in and lets her have a cookie so she will stop crying.
Maybe you can relate to the above scenario. It can be a constant battle to get kids to eat their vegetables or just eat healthy in general. Emily and many other kids have this assumption that broccoli, along with other veggies/healthy foods are gross. Perhaps, they just don’t know the positive benefits of consuming them.
Helping kids have a knowledge of the importance of consuming healthy foods will make mealtime a more positive experience for the whole family.
A simple way to do this is by connecting eating healthy to having superpowers.
A superpower gives you the ability to do things and makes you feel invincible. Eating healthy also gives you the ability to do more things and makes your body feel good. Educate kids about how the right foods will turn them into a super kid. Some specific examples of healthy superpowers are:
- Protein rich foods like fish, eggs, and beans help your muscles get stronger!
- Healthy carbohydrates like squash, brown rice, and sweet potatoes give you energy to play!
- Colorful vegetables like spinach, beets, and red peppers keep your eyes healthy and protect you from sickness!
- Healthy fats like avocado, seeds, and olive oil help your brain develop and make you smart!
- Eating whole, healthy foods and getting a variety of nutrients helps you feel good and balances your mood!
There are many other healthy superpowers you could come up with and relate to your child.
Let’s reevaluate the scenario from the beginning. Emily seems to rely on getting a cookie or treat if she eats her vegetables. We need to be careful not to use treats as a crutch/motivation for kids to eat healthy. In some ways, it defeats the purpose of them deciding to make those healthy choices. I’m not saying kids can’t have treats at all; it would just be best to do it in moderation. Instead of making food a reward, try something different. Some examples could be:
- Staying up a little past bedtime to watch a show
- Going to the park
- Cooking together
- Doing a craft
- Playing their favorite game or just doing any activity they enjoy
Find what best motivates your child--identifying the superpowers foods will give them or coming up with a non-edible reward. Let’s see how the scenario from above could have played out differently:
Emily asked, “Can I have a cookie?
Mom replied, “Not tonight, finish your broccoli please.”
Emily shouted, “I don’t want to finish my broccoli. Broccoli is gross!”
Mom said, “Emily did you know that eating your broccoli will give you a superpower?”
Emily looked interested and enquired, “Really!? What kind of superpower!?”
Mom smugly said, “Remember how a few months ago you got sick and didn’t feel well for a few days? Well, eating your broccoli and other vegetables gives you a superpower that helps keep you from getting sick.”
Emily said, “I did not like getting sick and I don’t want to get sick anytime soon. I guess I should eat my broccoli.”
Mom, feeling pleased, praised Emily, “That’s my girl!”
Emily proceeds to gobble up her broccoli.
Mom lets Emily stay up an extra 10 minutes past her bedtime since she did so well with eating her broccoli.
In this scenario, Mom was able to identify a superpower related to Emily’s situation and reinforce her good choice by letting her stay up past her bedtime. This made dinner a much more positive experience for both Emily and her Mom.
Starting small by implementing these tips to encourage your kids make healthy choices will help them to get the nutrients their bodies need. It will also help them have a better attitude toward their relationship with food.
For more tips and resources, take a look at an article Coach Jen wrote, How To Help Your Picky Eater.
If this resonates with you and you would like to learn more, let’s chat! Set up a call time with me.
To health and happiness,