Take the First Step: Be a Role Model

OK so you’ve made a pledge for your family to eat more fruits and vegetables. Now what?  The first thing you have to do is get your own eating habits in order before you can start working on theirs. Guess who the number one influence is on your child’s eating habits – it’s not the media/commercials, other kids, or Ronald McDonald – it’s YOU! You are your child’s number one role model. So the most effective way to instill healthy eating habits in your children, is to eat healthy yourself – they will watch and learn.  Over time they will follow your lead.  Trying to force them to eat something they don’t want to eat (and that they don’t see you ever eating) is not effective and could lead to unhealthy views on food, control issues, and other negative consequences. So if you want them to eat something, just eat it yourself and talk about how much you're enjoying it.
Along with being a role model, here are some other things you can do to make this journey stress-free and successful.
Stock up and give them lots of choices
  • Make sure you have a variety of fruits and vegetables in your house so your children can choose which ones to eat.  Fresh, frozen, and packaged are all great options. Don't force your children to eat something just because it's the one vegetable you’re offering that night. Give them choices – have at least a few veggies on the table. 
  • If you have a picky eater and you know they like one or two vegetables, always have one of those “tried and true” veggies available so they can be successful eating something they like. In addition, offer a couple other kid-friendly options such as cucumber slices, celery, baby carrots, sweet bell pepper slices... and remember to eat some yourself!  
  • You can also let them choose how something is cooked (or not cooked) as well. Many times kids prefer cold, raw, crunchy vegetables instead of cooked vegetables and that’s okay. Maybe they like their broccoli raw instead of steamed or served with a dip.  So experiment with cooking methods, dips and toppings - give them choices. 
And just to tie in how Raise Your Rainbow® can help you accomplish these tips…when you bring Raise Your Rainbow® into your home and display it on your fridge, you are conveying to your child that you value this way of eating. 
 
Also, playing this game and seeing it displayed on the fridge will remind you to keep on track with your own healthy eating so you can “walk the talk” and be a great role model. It will also help you remember to stock up and make sure you have a variety of colorful produce on hand in order to give your children lots of choices so they can be successful at playing Raise Your Rainbow®!