When you hand your kids a healthy snack or have them sit down to a wholesome meal, do you cringe because you fear their little voices of retaliation? "Ew," "yuck" and "I don't like that!" are some of the most notorious responses.
While it may sometimes feel like kids only want unhealthy foods, the majority are open to healthy choices. According to a recent Stonyfield Organic yoghurt survey of kids ages 5-11 and their parents based in the US, although only a quarter of kids said they "love" healthy snacks, a full 40% said they "like healthy snacks" and only 1% said that healthy snacks are "gross!"
Though it can be difficult to find foods parents and kids agree upon, there are some smart ways to end the food fights for good. As a mom of three young kids with snacking opinions of their own, Vanessa Lachey, TV host and actress, explains that her snack selection philosophy is all about give and take.
"I love that my kids have opinions about their food and they are especially excited about picking their snacks," she says. "I use that enthusiasm as an opportunity to talk to them about making healthy choices, balancing treats with goodness and listening to their bodies to know when they are hungry — themes and lessons that extend far beyond the snack aisle."
To help other parents get past the food fights, Lachey shares her top three tips for finding common ground about healthy eating:
Try new things: "Kids are more adventurous than I think we sometimes give them credit for," she says. "Packing a lunch or afternoon snack each day, it's easy to get into a rut. I try to introduce at least one new food each week."
Stick to it: "Kids' tastes are always changing," she stresses. "One day Camden will say he hates a certain food but when I reintroduce it a few weeks later, he's a fan. I try not to get too bummed if something doesn't hit the mark the first time."
Share control: "Putting myself in my kids' shoes, you bet I can imagine how frustrating it would be not to have control over food choices," Lachey says. "So, before we take trips to the grocery store together, I let Camden and Brooklyn know they can each pick three things that we agree upon together. It's amazing for starting a discussion about what helps fuel our bodies and is a good choice, and of course still tastes great!" Maybe you select a fruit and try it together tonight for a nutritious dessert? Or let kids choose a nutritious snack to look forward to like organic lowfat yoghurt paired with either organic graham crackers, organic cookies or organic pretzels for dipping. "With lots of practice with my own kids, I know how challenging it can be to find snacks that I feel good about but also that my kids will actually eat," says Lachey.
These simple tips will help you bring peace to your family's meal and snack times with healthy foods everyone — kids and adults — will love.