Fun—and healthy, too

We want our kids to eat a variety of foods to lay a great nutritional foundation, but they’re kids, and they don’t give a hoot about what we want. So how does one balance optimal nutrition and picky eating? Here are a few tips to get you through your mealtime adventure.

“Hire” a sous chef

Including your kids not only teaches them valuable life skills and gives them a sense of accomplishment, but it also gets them invested in the meal so they’re more likely to eat it.

Eat together

Eating together is a great way to teach important table manners and show what healthy eating looks like. It’s also a great way to maintain a sense of familial connection. Studies show that children of families that eat together are less likely to engage in risky behavior or develop disordered eating.

Serve a variety of foods

According to registered dietitian Joelle Jacobsen, “Overall, all foods fit! There are some that should be offered in moderation. These include sugar-sweetened beverages such as juice, lemonade, and soda. Instead of juice, offer your child whole fruits.” She adds that “Raw milk, raw juice, raw eggs, and undercooked meats should not be given to young children, to prevent foodborne illness.”

Don’t pressure

“Parents decide what food, where it’s served, and when,” says Jacobsen. “Your child decides if they want to eat it and how much. Include a familiar food at each meal and snack. Continue to introduce new foods often and prepared in different ways. Try not to pressure your child to try it.

According to Jacobsen, “There will be meals during which children don’t eat as much. Do your best not to comment. Instead, have family mealtimes where they observe eating behaviors and the choices you are making.”

Quick ’n’ easy

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s a quick and nutritious fix that touches on each of the three food groups (plus a bonus, because we all love dessert).


It’ll blow your mind what you can do with high-protein foods such as lentils and garbanzo beans. Mash them up and combine them with basic spices and oils to make a dip, or shape them into balls or patties.

Vegetables and fruits

Make it a smoothie! Let your kids help by picking their own ingredients.

Whole grains

An ode to the humble oat: from the classic bowl of warm oatmeal to pancakes, from nutritious smoothie addition to muffins, this breakfast staple can be made into almost anything edible within minutes—including the venerable oatmeal cookie.

(Bonus) Dessert

Peel 4 bananas and freeze them for at least 4 hours. Place frozen bananas in a blender container, add 1 Tbsp (15 mL) cocoa powder (or to taste), and blend until creamy. Your kids will love it—and you’ve just become “Fun” and “Healthy” Dad.

For more information on feeding kids, contact your local health authority or find a registered dietitian.