...because we all have our motley moments!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Healthy Eating Game

So...how do your kids eat? Do they love healthy food, or do they barely recognize it? My little guy loves fruit, but he isn't very partial to veggies. This summer I took him to my great aunt's garden and let him "harvest" some squash and zucchini hoping that he would take some ownership in the growing process and want to eat what he picked. He definitely took ownership--to this day he points to squash and zucchini and says, "I picked that for you!" Unfortunately his next words are always, "YOU eat it. That's yucky."

Did my husband and I do this? I don't think so. We are both adventurous eaters and there is a strict no-criticizing-food rule in our household. Regardless, it's not who is at fault that matters, it's what to do now. How do we get the little guy to eat a healthier diet?

I am a magazine junkie, and in the October issue of Parents Magazine there is an interesting article about Dr. Brian Wansink's ideas on that topic. You may have already read this, but if not, here are some points that piqued my interests in particular:

1. Dr. Wansink puts a lot of stock into the presentation of food and drinks. He serves water in huge glasses and juices in tall, thin ones. The idea with the water is that we drink more of what we have in ample supply. The juice in the tall, thin glass appears to be larger than a short glass, and though there is less juice in the tall glass it is visually more satisfying.

2. On that same note, he serves desserts, sweets, and snacks in small, cute bowls. He fills them to the top, and visually it looks like the kids are getting a big serving.

3. He uses funny names for common foods, like "X-Ray Vision Carrots," "Power Peas," and "Dinosaur Trees (Broccoli)." He claims that in his studies kids ate twice the amount of veggies when they had funny names.

4. More color matters. Just like in a study where kids ate more M&M's if they were in assorted colors, kids also eat more veggies in assorted colors, eg. assorted peppers instead of only green ones.

So, what do you think? Do you have any ideas for encouraging a healthy diet in your home? What do you think of Wansink's ideas? I would love to hear from you!


Liz said...

I like his ideas, although Ethan still wouldn't eat broccoli when I called it "dinosaur trees." I make him eat 3 of whatever vegetable we're eating, because he's 3. But I don't force the issue. As for Micah, I don't know how to get him to eat veggies. He doesn't eat much more than peanut butter, bread, bananas, applesauce, and yogurt.

Donna said...

That's funny...we always called broccoli "dinosaur trees" too! Our kids gobble up everything but peppers. KID 1 doesn't like 'em, so KID 2 doesn't either. They pick the pretty red, yellow and green bits out of everything. So multicolor doesn't help if they're still multi-yucky to the kids.

I love his ideas on presentation. I use our small ramekins for desserts, but still feel they are too big for most things. I make smiley faces with their fruits and veggies at snack and lunch times and always have a new name for regular foods: elbows and knees with cheese (mac and cheese), knights' javelins (asparagus), sunken treasure soup (this could apply to any kind of soup with veggies and pasta at the bottom!), I just come up with it off the top of my head and go with it. The kids love it!

jeannine said...

we're mean. we don't let our kids down from the table until they've finished their food. to balance this out, i try to give them very small portions that i know they're capable of eating. we rarely have problems getting them to eat, because they know they just have to. there ARE some foods i know my kids JUST don't like, so i usually only give them one (for instance, one teeny carrot slice for Sage, who hates carrots).

Lindsay said...

I don't keep "junk" in the house. I RARELY by chips, cookies, or sweets of any kind really. So that helps a lot, you can't eat what you don't have, this really applies to me but works great for the girls too.

Avery is my pickiest eatter. I just try to serve one healthy option that she does like at each meal. We eat a lot of green beans and cooked carrots because those are her favorites. She has to try everything but doesn't have to eat all of it. She loves fruit so that's not a problem.

I cook one meal for dinner. I try to make sure that each of the girls has at least one thing that they like, so that they will eat something. I always serve bread last.

Sage will eat anything put in front of her. She requests broccoli for a snack almost everyday. She loves veggies, loves fruit, and pretty much everything else I serve.

Capri pretty much eats anything too, but she does have her favorites. I think all kids go through a phase where they like things one day and then won't eat it the next. With her I give her veggies first and when she's eatten some of those I give her the rest of her food.

I have a lot of "rules" but really dinner time is very relaxed and I don't make a big deal out of anything.

Lita said...

Two important words when it comes to getting them to eat fruits and veggies (especially the little guy): smoothies & soups!