Fun, Fun, Fun

So I’m guessing you already know it’s easier to get kids to do things when they’re having fun. You don’t say to your kids “go out and exercise!” You say go out an PLAY! And they will get exercise naturally when they ride their bikes, scooters, play basketball, hopscotch, etc.   Another great example is when it’s time to clean up and you start singing that annoyingly catchy Barney song: “Clean-up Clean-up everybody everywhere…” But it works! Kids sing, smile and clean up their toys.
Eating healthy foods is no different. You’ve got to make it fun (at least until eating plenty of fruits and vegetables becomes a habit and simply just the way you eat.)
That’s where colors, rainbows, creativity, independent choices, experimenting with new foods, and the chance to “win” all come into play. If you don’t make eating fruits and especially vegetables fun, it’s like asking your children to do jumping jacks every time you want them to be active. 
As a parent with limited time (and okay, patience) to make something as routine as eating “fun”, I use Raise Your Rainbow® for our main dose of “fun” with fruits and vegetables and that works great . It’s low-maintenance for me, and it engages and motivates kids just as well as any other more labor-intensive healthy eating strategy could. Remember, if there’s a “winning” component to something, children will go to great lengths to complete the challenge in order to win.
So aside from playing Raise Your Rainbow® regularly, here are some other creative ways to make healthy eating fun:
  • Create a big fanfare around trying a new fruit or vegetable to generate excitement and curiosity. For example, bring home a pomegranate – see if they can name it, how to eat it, watch a YouTube video together on how to get the seeds out, and then do it yourselves. Make it an event.
  • Use muffin tins and put different foods in the compartments, or have the kids divide foods by color. Make your dinner table look like one of those self-serve yogurt stores with different veggies and fruits in each compartment.  They will be so focused on the novelty of the tins that they will be more adventurous with trying different foods. 
  • Taste Tests Everyone loves to give their input for kitchen experiments. Do you like it cooked this way or that way…which sauce on your veggie do you like better?
  • Party Time Dishes - Use acrylic margarita or daiquiri glasses for smoothies, serve fruit and yogurt parfaits in ice cream sundae glasses, use fun, colorful party dishes, serve finger foods with toothpicks (age appropriate)...  This is great to do especially on a playdate.
  • Gadgets – Kids love using kitchen gadgets so get them involved with preparing the food: use a melon baller, veggie spray and scrubber, salad spinner, lettuce knife, wear a fun apron…
  • Play with your food. Make a dolphin out of a banana, palm tree out of a pretzel rod and sugar snap peas, ants on a log with celery, PB and raisins. Cut out fun pictures (found on our Pinterest site - snack folder) and try to recreate them. Have kids use their imagination and give foods new names.  Sometimes we find baby carrots that look like fingers (ew, but funny), or call spinach leaves “clams” and dip them in dressing using the stem (the “neck”).
  • Think outside the box: Give kids a kiwi cut in half and a spoon with their lunch, a whole carrot peeled and ready to eat as is, or pomegranate seeds in a cup. 

Have fun, engage their imagination, spark their curiosity, and your family will be eating more fruits and vegetables faster than you can say "of course you can have another palm tree!"