Tips On Getting Your Kids To Eat Healthy Foods

Divided plates are a hit with my kids

Got a kid or kids that could live on a diet of pasta, chicken nuggets, and ketchup? I’ve made plenty of meals that have ended up on the floor for the dog to eat. I’ll skip over the obvious cutting out sugar, junk food, and blah, blah, blah because you all know that one. I want to tell you about what I do to engage my kids and help get them on board to eating healthy.

Fun Plates

I completely underestimated how much my kids would love to eat on something fun. I have a bunch of plates and bowls for them on one of our bottom shelves. They can pick their plate for their meal and it seems to make them a little more open to eating whatever is on it. Everything apparently is more appealing when there’s a dinosaur involved!

The Golden Rule

There’s only one rule in my kitchen, which mostly applies right now to my 6 year old daughter because my 2 year old son is…well, he’s 2. The golden rule is if something is on your plate that’s new, take ONE BITE. Just try it. You don’t have to like it, just try it.

I’ll put literally one piece of something new on their plates to try. I remember that my daughter didn’t want to try a red pepper and she had exactly one little piece on her plate along with one piece of red onion and one piece of yellow pepper. I told her she had to try one of those three things–her choice. She took a teeny tiny nibble of the red pepper and ended up taking another nibble. She told me it was actually good. I’ve gotten them to try a lot of food this way. The super small quantity isn’t overwhelming and just trying it (yep, they can spit it out if they don’t like it) is working for us.

I should mention that if there’s a huge fuss about it, I don’t push it. I don’t want it to become something dreaded and on days that are long or if they’re tired, there’s no need to force it.

Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping tends to be my alone time. I know, I know…living the vida loco over here. Don’t judge. I do bring the kids along sometimes and get them to pick out what THEY want for fruits and veggies. I encourage them to look for new stuff.

The other week, my daughter was with me and I ran into someone I knew and stopped to chat. I set her free in the produce section and told her to go pick what she wanted. It was interesting to see what she picked, the funniest being when she plopped a bag of green beans into the shopping cart. There were literally 14 beans…basically what she could fit in her little hand.

The great thing is that when she picks something, she wants to eat it. She’s asked about produce that she doesn’t know about and has been wanting to try cabbage. Who knows if she’ll like it but she’ll willing to try it and that’s all that counts.

Junior Chef

On days when you have time, toss an little apron on your kid(s) and let them channel their inner junior chef. I have supplies for them (see above)–my daughter loves her measuring spoons and cups and the salad spinner is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Sometimes I put my daughter in charge of making a salad for the family or have her help her little brother stir something. Mix something, measure something, mash something, cut something…anything that’s age appropriate. She feels proud of herself and has a great time when she’s helped in some way to make a meal. Needless to say, I watch her carefully ’cause safety and all.

Little Herb Garden

When it’s finally warm enough, we go out and buy some starter herb plants. My daughter picks them and we talk about the smell of it and what it’s used for. City living doesn’t lend itself to gardening very well so, right now, we’re confined to a small little herb garden.

With the new herbs, we plant a bunch of them in containers and watch them grow. What kid doesn’t love getting their hands dirty? My daughter helps water them and when they’re big enough we go out on the deck to pick what we want to use for supper. It’s just another way to get her invested in eating well.

So, there you have it, this is what’s working for me and my family. I hide veggies in things and do all the other mom tricks to get them to eat healthy stuff. I want them to have a good and healthy relationship with food and am hoping that by giving them the tools and opportunity to make good choices that it’ll help.

Do you have any tips that you do to encourage your kids to eat healthy?

My Food Freedom Weekend


I’ve been on this journey for a long time – since October 2015, to be exact. I’ve done so many rounds of Whole30 that I’ve sort of lost track (9 or 10?) and I’ve had really solid periods of time living in Food Freedom.

My last round was in January/February of this year and since then I’ve been living a Food Freedom that’s been really close to Whole30 (adding in occasional sugar and some Whole30 no-no’s like plantain chips.) But to be honest, I haven’t had many situations over the past few months with possible “worth it” moments so it’s been pretty easy to stick to my comfortable Whole30-style eating. I don’t go out to eat much and I’ve stayed away from alcohol for more than five months – not because I am depriving myself but because it just hasn’t felt like it serves me.

Last weekend was the first chance I’ve had in a while to truly flex my Food Freedom muscles. I went to New Hampshire for the night to visit my fellow Whole30 Certified Coach and awesome friend Jen Woods Maloney. Driving up to New Hampshire by myself (I had nearly 24 hours off of MOM DUTY!) was a big deal for me as I do not like to drive but I
knew it would be worth it…and it was!

Here’s how I approached my big night away in Food Freedom:

  1. On Saturday morning, before I left, I made sure to get in one of my Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown DVD workouts. I had to put my daughter in front of Netflix while I did it but I knew that moving my body, doing a little yoga, and getting my sweat on would help me stay as calm as possible during the drive and as I thought about my food choices. Movement is KEY for me – it sets the stage to allow me to be my best self in whatever I do.
  2. I packed Whole30 compliant snacks with me for the car and ended up snacking on a few handfuls of raw cashews as I drove deep into the hills of New Hampshire.
  3. When I got to Jen’s house, we had a little snack before dinner. We enjoyed carrots with guacamole and Kite Hill dairy-free cream cheese spread. I also had an orange. I didn’t want to go into dinner starving or already eating junky foods. I had never had the Kite Hill spread before – and it was awesome. It’s compliant but should be used with caution, especially if you have a complicated relationship with cheese. (I do not so it was fine for me to have some and then we put it away.)
  4. At dinner, I made my biggest Food Freedom decision to date in 2019! I had my first glass of wine this year! I went through the Food Freedom questions in my head – Was it worth it? Would it mess me up? Did I really want it? Was there something else I could have instead? Would it add to my overall experience? I decided that it was worth it, this was a special occasion, if I was careful it would not mess me up, and that I did want it. I also knew I did not have to drive and I did not have to wake up to a 6-year-old the next morning. All of my boxes were checked! So, I ordered ONE glass of white wine and I enjoyed the heck out of it with my dinner.
  5. For dinner, I stuck to dishes that were Whole30-ish – obviously, I have no idea of the exact ingredients in each dish but I chose things that were familiar. I had bluefish pate with red onions and housemade potato chips as an appetizer, and scallops with asparagus, crispy potatoes, and tomato jam for my main dish. The food was delicious. I took home some of each which became my dinner the next night. It felt good to enjoy – but stop when I was ready. I also snuck two French Fries from Jen’s plate and those were worth it was well!
  6. I had no desire for dessert so that was easy to pass on – I was totally satisfied with my wine, my food, and the overall experience.
  7. Since I had not had wine in so many months, I took a preemptive approach to any side effects. I made sure to drink a lot of water that night and I did take some Ibuprofen – just in case of any inflammation. I also got to bed shortly after we got home and slept like a baby!!
  8. The next morning, I woke up feeling good! After coffee, Jen took me for a hike in nearby Laconia. The uphill was challenging at times and we were rewarded with a gorgeous view. As always, it felt great to move and I am lucky to have friends who have the same priorities that I do!
  9. Post-hike, we met up with two other Whole30 Coaches and friends (Amanda Alley
    and Dolly Sengsavang) for breakfast at a local spot. I chose poached eggs, bacon, steamed spinach, sweet potato hash, and more coffee with BYO-nutpods and collagen peptides! My dish came with gluten-free toast, which I never have, but I decided to try one square of it. It was good but I didn’t need more. I left the rest of my toast on the plate. It didn’t seem worth it to me.
  10. Before I hit the road, I loaded up on some of the tasty Whole30 food Amanda and Dolly had brought to enjoy by Jen’s pool. (This mama had to get back to soccer practice!) I packed up some buffalo chicken dip and Dolly’s famous tostones and some spinach and artichoke dip that Amanda had made. I was excited to enjoy this Whole30 compliant food back at home – I knew it would help me over the next few meals after being away. I also had plans for some easy meal prep when I returned
    home so I would be set up for success as I returned to my “regularly scheduled program” of eating. I made it home – back to my daughter and to real life. I was happy to have been away and feel recharged for a new week.

I am proud of myself for being a little flexible with my food and putting my Food Freedom skills into practice. Nothing “messed me up” and I did not let the wine or the meals out turn into “all-or-nothing” free-for-alls. I enjoyed and moved on. As a reformed dieter and former binge eater, it’s been a long road to get here but I’ve been doing the work. To me, this is what life – and Food Freedom – is all about.

How to Whole30 as a Teacher

I am an educator. It’s in my blood. It doesn’t seem to matter what I am doing because all of life seems to come back to learning and applying knowledge. Whole30 has been no different!

I am also a wife, mom to six kiddos (age range spanning 16 years – which means I will forever have teenagers – Lord help me!). I am a caretaker and as a school administrator in a large urban district working with at-risk students and families. I often do a fantastic job of taking care of everyone else, often at the expense of myself. But, my first Whole30 round in January 2018 changed all of that!

When you work in education, your entire world can be broken down into minutes and acronyms. You spend hours in PLCs learning about how PBL, RTI and MTSS are going to change your world. You work with students who are ADHA, ASD, EBD/LD or OHI and are tasked to create learning environments that are inclusive and differentiated to each individual, unique need. You debate if phonics or whole language is better and then agree on balanced literacy. The hours are of your day are full during the school year and your summer vacation is typically spent regrouping and preparing for the year ahead.

To be successful on Whole30, I focused in and fit it into my world….so let me share my Top 5 Tips for Educators in acronyms just for you!

1. MPLYLP – Meal Plan Like You Lesson Plan (Write it down)
Think about Whole30 in the same way you think about your lesson plans! Pull recipes, make grocery lists, shop and organize your food. I know I need breakfast ready for a quick reheat in the morning. Lunches need to be packed the night before so I can grab and go. I plan and make sure dinner is ready and available. Grab emergency items for when you are extra hungry or need a little something to make it through that afternoon staff meeting! Everything you pre-plan for the week sets you up for success during the day.

2. POW – Prep on Weekends (Don’t fail to prep)
I prep on Saturdays. I grocery shop first thing in the morning and then prep it when I get home. I roast or air fry veggies because roasted veggies are just as yummy cold as they are reheated. Poaching chicken ensures I have a quick protein to add to any meal and I make sure I have hard-boiled eggs on hand. I toss together things like Egg Roll in a Bowl or make easy soups packed with veggies. I keep big meals for the weekend when I have time to BBQ. Snack size bags work great for veggies or meat sticks. Portioning out food makes it ready to go because then there is no excuse.

3. FIP – Find Your Posse
Find your people and support each other. Most people are intrigued with my Whole30 meals and support me if I share my reasoning behind it. Yes, to some it sounds crazy, but people will still cheer you on. Find those people and hang on to them!

4. H3 – Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate (keep those fluids coming)

Water, LaCroix, Hot Tea, Iced Tea, Coffee – whatever it is, grab it! This keeps you going more than you know and is the easiest thing to keep in hand in the classroom or hallway. Buy a fun bottle or insulated cup and keep it filled. This helps regulate your hunger as well.

5. KISS – Keep it Simple Sister/Sir (cold meals, no reheating, grab and go)
Simplicity is key! When I first started, I was making condiments and fancy dishes. Now, the lazy deviled egg is the way to go. I know when I am home, having my tools close at hand makes my time more efficient. Cleaning out my fridge so I don’t have to think about what I am grabbing and if it is compliant is the best.

Following these few steps has made it possible for me to be successful during some of the most difficult times of the year. They also hold me accountable during breaks and summer vacation when the change in routine throws things off. Staying focused through the end will ensure your success and a long string of NSVs!

Here’s to summer vacation, fellow educators…!