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How To Get Your Kids To Eat Healthy?
by Stacy Popke / July 19, 2008

How do you get your child to go from a junk food enthusiast to a spinach-loving Popeye wannabe?

Why, you use bribery and trickery, of course! Think Iím kidding? Well, think again. Sometimes disguising the offending foods or offering an incentive for eating them is the only way to win the war without having to fight the battle. The following tips are tried-and-true ways to entice the pickiest of picky eaters to make healthier food choices.

1. Play dress up! No, this doesnít involve you putting on a bunny costume and singing the merits of carrots in front of your child. Iím referring to dressing up disliked foods with tasty herbs. A dash of this or that may be all it takes to undo a foodís stigma of blandness.

Conversely, you could dress up an unhealthy food with nutritious add-ons. Your childís beloved hamburger or hot dog can be topped with a variety of complimentary vegetables. Pizza is another food that can blends well with numerous vegetable toppings.

2. Use a grater on that food hater. Before you call Child Protective Services on me, what Iím really talking about here is grating up the offending foods into one of your childís favorite dishes. Have a kiddo whoíd rather visit the dentist than eat squash? Grate some up into a kid-friendly dish like lasagna and itíll be our little secret.

3. Get lost in the sauce. My drill instructor at boot camp was fond of telling us recruits that we must be Ďlost in the sauceí whenever we didnít meet her stringent standards. But when it comes to unsavory vegetables, getting lost in the sauce can be a good thing. Whether you decide to drench a sweet pea and corn combo in chicken gravy or jazz up a leafy salad with a raspberry walnut dressing, your kiddo will appreciate the added flavor.

4. The one time when itís okay to be a dip? When youíre talking about vegetable dips! Joking aside, your finicky eater might even take a second helping if you add a dip with those vegetables. Take the plunge with a spicy ranch dip for those baked zucchini fries or a cilantro and lime yogurt dip for that fish dish.

5. Give them what they want. Iím not suggesting you give up and give in to your kiddoís junk food cravings. Instead, do a compromise thatíll satisfy everyone at the dinner table. Top your childís hamburger with low-fat cheese and use whole wheat buns. Is pizza a family favorite? Ditch the pepperoni with pineapples and say hello to a healthier (and still tasty!) meal. If ice cream is a wanted treat, serve it up with fresh fruit to add nutritional value.

6. When herbs, dips, and sauces arenít enough to motivate your kiddo to eat the offending food, then try bribery. Offer a tempting treat if all of their vegetables get eaten. Keep the treatís serving size to a minimum and donít offer it any other time. If a junk food bribe isnít your thing, try using cash or some other motivator.

So the next time your picky eater refuses to ditch the sugary sweets for nutritious greens, try one of these tips. And donít give up trying; if one idea doesnít work, the next one might be the winner!

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