Six Ways to Sneak Health Food into Your Child’s Diet

Copyright 2006 Pat Brill

If you are a parent, you’re probably all-too-familiar with hearing “eww!” ick!” “I don’t like it!” and “That’s gross!” coming out of your child’s mouth. In fact, getting a child to eat health food can sometimes be as hard as getting a parking space that three other cars are waiting for. If you’re tired of your child’s dietary battles turning into tactical missions and survival-of-the-fittest lessons (or survival of the most stubborn), we’ve got six sneaky ways for you to trick your child into eating health food that you’re absolutely going to love.

#1 – Carrot Cupcakes

Show me a child who doesn’t love cupcakes and I’ll show you a dog that doesn’t like bones. I’ve known hundreds of children in my lifetime and I cannot remember a single one of them not liking cupcakes. That’s what I call an opportunity.

We all know cupcakes aren’t healthy. Chocolate or white cake and a bunch of sugary frosting on top equates to nothing more than empty calories and a huge sugar rush. But what if you make cupcakes out of carrot cake? Or even zucchini or banana bread? All you have to do then is create a cream-cheese frosting (lightly sweetened of course) and you’ve got a cupcake that’s healthy and that kids can’t resist.

#2 – Fruit Smoothies

Some parents, no matter how hard they try, just can’t get their children to eat fresh fruit. It may be the texture or the taste, but whatever it is, getting them to eat fruit is like getting a vegetarian to try steak – it just isn’t going to happen.

One day a friend of mine was drinking a fruit smoothie she had picked up at the local juice bar and her son asked her if he could have a sip of her “shake.” My friend didn’t bother to correct her son. She simply gave him the cup and let him take a swallow. Guess what? He loved it! Since then they’ve been making their own healthy fruit smoothies at home and he’s getting wholesome fruit on a regular basis.

#3 – Dip It

For some reason (I have yet to figure this one out), children seem to accept healthy food easier if they can dip it. Offer a little girl a whole carrot and she’ll look at you like you’ve grown a third eye. Offer her cut-up carrot sticks with low-fat vegetable dip and she’s in seventh heaven. If you can’t get your child to eat healthy foods, try offering healthy dips to go with it and you might be surprised at how quickly they change their minds.

#4 – Put It in an Ice Cream Cone

A woman we know of had made a wonderful fresh-fruit salad for a party and her grandson wouldn’t touch it. If there’s one thing grandma’s like, it’s watching they’re grandchildren eat healthy foods so she was bound and determined to get some of the fruit salad into him. She came up with the idea of putting the fruit salad in an ice-cream cone and suddenly fruit salad was the best thing ever and all the kids wanted it. Since then people who witnessed the success at the party have tried the ice-cream cone technique with cottage cheese and even tuna salad and it hasn’t failed yet. If it’s in an ice-cream cone, chances are kids will eat it.

#5 – Ovaltine Please

If you know what Ovaltine is or if you already have Ovaltine in the house, that’s great. If you don’t, you’re about to fall in love with a good, old-fashioned wholesome product.

There are thousands upon thousands of children who just don’t like the taste of milk. However, when Ovaltine is mixed into it, many of them can’t get enough. Ovaltine makes milk taste somewhat like chocolate milk, but more malt-flavored. Even though the stuff tastes great, it’s actually quite healthy. Ovaltine is full of vitamins and minerals and it’s fat free and cholesterol free. Just add it to low-fat milk and you’ve got healthy chocolate milk for your kids.

#6 – Make It Pretty

The visual presentation of food has a big impact on how kids perceive it. Throw some plain low-fat, all-natural yogurt in a plastic bowl with a spoon and they’ll probably turn their noses up at it. However, if you put it in a parfait cup with a sprinkling of granola or a few berries on top and serve it with a fancy spoon, it may be an entirely different story. The same goes for healthy drinks. Serve fresh juice or milk with an interesting straw and kids will be much more likely to drink it.

While deception and trickery isn’t something we should often use when dealing with our children, in the case of sneaking health foods into their diets, I think it’ll work out just fine.