How to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Food Family

One of the biggest struggles parents face is trying to get kids to eat healthy food. We experience this regularly in my family as we travel to different parts of the world. Granted, you can find restaurants anywhere that have kid-friendly food like chicken nuggets, little pizzas, macaroni and cheese, or spaghetti. And if you’re cooking at home, you can tailor the food to your childrens’ tastes. But sometimes we want our kids to eat something more healthy, like vegetables or beans, or just something different than what they’re used to.

I don’t claim to know all the answers about how to get kids to eat food they don’t like, and there are still times when they refuse. But here are two little tricks that have worked flawlessly with our girls.

Turning Into Your Food

First, Marie (age 6) likes to play a game that she turns into the food that she eats. If there’s something on her plate that she’s not touching, all we have to say is, “Oh, I hope Marie doesn’t eat that [insert food here]! Because then she’ll turn into it!!” Once she hears that, she gets a mischievous look on her face, and says in a taunting tone, “I’m going to eat it!”

We then shout, “No!!! Not that!!! Please!!!” But she doesn’t listen. She looks right at us and gobbles it down, and we all act shocked at how her arms and head and changing shape and color to match whatever she ate, commenting on her gross new form, and how sad we are that our daughter Marie is gone. She giggles with delight at her new body.

Eventually, the effect wears off and she becomes herself again, so needs to take another bite. If she has a bite with multiple types of food in it (such as a vegetable soup), she’ll turn into a mix of everything she just swallowed.

You would think she would grow tired of this game. But, it’s been working for over 3 months now, and we’ve used it on about half of our meals. She will eat things she normally says she doesn’t like and refuses to eat. She seems to forget about taste and texture when meal time is turned into a game. Here’s a video that demonstrates this:

Food Race

Emily (age 7) on the other hand, won’t turn into her food. She’ll encourage Marie in the game, but won’t participate herself. But after seeing how happy we were that Marie was now eating her food, Emily volunteered some helpful information about herself. She said, “If you ever want me to eat my food, just make it a race. Say, ‘Let’s see if you can finish your food in 20 seconds. Go!'”

I think in general that it’s harder to digest food that isn’t well chewed, but I would rather have her eat fast, than not at all. Lately, she has been very good at finishing her meals, even food she doesn’t like, unless she was given an extremely large portion. Thanks for the tip, Emily!

Your Turn

These are ways that work with my kids. But every kid is different. I would love to hear what works for you! Please write a comment below about how you get your kids to eat food they don’t want to eat.


Brandon is a location independent entrepreneur, musician, traveler, worldschooling father, and the principal author of this blog. He's all about reaching his potential and enjoying life to the fullest in every moment while inspiring others to do the same.


Comments

  1. Ryder is all about presentation. I use cookie cutters ALL the time…. cutting food like cheese slices, sandwiches, tortillas, etc into fun shapes. We use dip as a way to get him to try new things. He loves ranch and ketchup so those are go-to dips, but he’ll also eat hummus or salsa. Also, every once and awhile I use the “magic sprinkles”…I have him put a few shakes of sprinkles on the food and then he will gobble it down (I figure the tiny bit of sugar the sprinkles add are worth it for the nutrition value of the food he’s putting it on). Last but not least, I call food by cool names like rockets (mini carrots), engine coal (beans), etc.

  2. Oh, I love that video of Marie…. she was a constant source of entertainment at mealtimes. It amazed me how delighted she would get at playing the game. And I just had tears rolling down my cheeks watching it again – so funny.

  3. Jennifer Pearce Says: August 19, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Love that video. :) So glad that game works so well. Marie loves her games, that’s for sure. Simple “I-bet-I-can-trick-you” games have made for a lot more fun in homeschool as well.

  4. That’s a great video and a great game. I was kind of a “eat what you want” kind of a Dad. I really respect people who take parenting so seriously. When I was doing it it was somthing you did cause you were supposed to.

  5. chicken nuggets, little pizzas,or spaghetti? my kids wont eat that! They will eat fresh fruit and veggies and thats lucky for me. They just wont eat cassarole type food {dallin sorta will} ben wont even try.

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