10 Sneaky ways to get your kids to eat healthy food

Children to eat healthy food

You don’t have to look far to find a TV programme or online article telling us our kids are overweight and generally unhealthy. With technology making the world move faster and our kids move slower, parents seem to be pushing against the tide in our attempts to get our children to eat healthy food.

A starting point is to create new healthy habits at home by getting your children involved with food preparation and allowing them choices in the kitchen. This will make them feel valued and encourage them to try new (healthy) foods. And of course, if there’s an element of fun involved you’ll automatically get their attention.

Here is our list of simple and fun tricks to encourage your children to eat healthy food.

10 Sneaky ways to get your kids to eat healthy food

1. Stick it on a stick

Kids love food if it’s presented on a stick! Cucumber and tomato on its own may not appeal but put it on a cocktail stick and it’s suddenly food from the gods. Skewers are ideal for fruit but don’t stop there. Skewer cooked veggies and tiny cut-up sandwiches and thread them on. Trust me, if it’s on a skewer (especially if they put it there) they’ll eat it. Note: For younger kids you may wish to cut-off the pointed end of the skewer.

2. Shake it up

Give healthy foods, herbs and spices appealing names that makes them sound more fun, then let them shake it onto their food. That shaking action is a dead-set winner. We call oats ‘sprinkles’ in our house, and they are sprinkled over other breakfast cereals as a ‘treat’. This can be done with a variety of foods such us seeds on salads, nuts on desserts and even a shake of ‘magic powder’ (otherwise known as turmeric) over eggs and potatoes. Best way EVER to get your children to eat healthy foods!

3. Serve it up

Children love to be involved with cooking but when time is short, especially at the end of a busy day, their intervention is the last thing you need. Yet don’t underestimate the power of a little involvement to get them interested in what you’re making. Make a healthy meal and then ask them to serve up the dinner, or at least their own plate. Tell them you trust them to be sensible about the amount they serve themselves i.e. plenty of vegetables. Once they have your trust you’ll be amazed how they rise to the challenge. Allow them a little time to make a pattern or a smiley face. When the plate hits the table they’ll be much more willing to eat everything on it. Young kids love being delegated age-appropriate chores, so make the most of it before the teenage years hit.

4. Groovy Smoothie

Smoothies are a sure-fire winner when it comes to getting children to eat healthy food. They are a cheeky way to get fruits, calcium and even spices into children. They taste great and what’s more they’re fun and easy to make. Our NutriBullet is our most loved kitchen gadget. Use frozen fruits as it’s cheaper, fresher and lends itself to the desired smoothie texture. Give your kids the choice of what goes in and let them make it themselves. It truly is my number one trick to get goodness into my little ones. Nutribullet for healthy smoothies for kids

Stockist: Amazon Australia


5. Build your own buttie

Children relish the opportunity to make their own sandwiches ‘just like mum’. When lunching at home, instead of making their sandwiches/rolls/wraps for them, put the fillings on a large plate i.e. ham, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and let them ‘build’ their own lunch. In time, their desire to build a bigger and better sandwich will have them adding foods they may not usually eat. This is how I got my daughter to eat tomatoes … and now she loves them.

6. See it, make it, eat it

If you don’t cook with your children, then it’s time to start. You don’t need to do it all the time, even just once every couple of weeks. Get their creative juices flowing by allowing them to choose a recipe book (ideally a kids one to keep it easy) from the library and ask them to pick whatever they want to cook. My daughters drool over pictures of dishes that I wouldn’t have thought they’d like. Then we make it, and they eat it. Magic.

7. Pleasurable pinwheels

When using a simple filling such as vegemite, ham, grated cheese or honey, you can turn the simple sandwich into a stand-out pinwheel. If you’ve not done it, it’s so easy a child could do it! Simply take two pieces of bread (ideally brown), cut off the crusts and line them up so one covers the other by about 3cm. Use a rolling pin to flatten the bread, which will also stick the two pieces together. Then simply pop on the filling, roll it up (starting at a short end) and cut into the desired thickness. Somehow, they even taste better than a normal sandwich … a brilliant trick to get children to eat healthy food.

Yummy pinwheels for healthy snacks

Image: Honey, Pistachios & Chocolate from Apron and Sneakers

8. Plan it out to get your children to eat healthy food

As a busy single mum I’m guessing you’re fairly organised with your meals i.e. you plan them ahead of time. Allow your children to have a say in the planning. Choose one or two nights a week when they can decide what is served for dinner, with the proviso that they make a healthy, balanced choice. They will relish the responsibility and at the same time learn what’s acceptable for a nourishing meal.

9. Turn to technology to get your children to eat healthy food

The reality is that one of the best ways to get information through to our children is via an electronic device.  Be it an iPhone, a tablet or a computer, if it’s digital then it’s deemed worthy in their eyes.  Leverage this by encouraging them to play games that revolve around healthy food choices. For a computer try Healthy Eating Made Easier or Nourish Interactive.

10. Take them to the source

Whenever the opportunity arises show your children how food grows, where it comes from and how it’s produced. Places like fruit fields, dairies and factories are brilliant to not only teach them about the food process but to encourage them to eat it. Sometimes understanding the food can make it more appealing and they’ll be more willing to give it a go. One of my daughters wouldn’t touch a blackberry until we went to the UK where they grow wildly. To pick and eat them was a whole new experience and created a fruity new love affair.

Conclusion: How to get children to eat healthy food

Encouraging children to eat a healthy diet is essential for their well-being and development.

As caregivers, we play a vital role in shaping their eating habits, helping them make better food choices and limit their sweet tooth. We can do this by providing plenty of nutritious foods, involving children in meal planning and preparation, setting a good example with our own eating habits, and making healthy eating a fun and enjoyable experience.

Changing food habits can take a while, and at times it might feel like an uphill battle, but you will get there, and the long-term benefits of a healthy diet for our children are well worth it.

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Beanstalk Single Mum Team

About the author

Beanstalk is run by a team of single mums who share their expertise about single motherhood to help other women on a similar journey to them. This article was written from experience and with love to help single mothers in Australia and across the world.

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