The Ripple Effect: How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Food

The Ripple Effect: How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Food

The Ripple Effect: How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Food

Getting kids to eat healthily can be a headache for most parents. When it comes to sitting down for breakfast, lunch or dinner, opting for a harmonious but less healthy option is often easier than a broccoli-based meal-time meltdown.

But does it always have to be a choice between just these two? Are there other options than simply taking the road of least resistance?

Ripple Sim is perhaps best known for being the taller half of a mummy-daughter Instagram duo with her seven-year-old partner in crime Miley a.k.a #SunshineChickadee. Since opening her Instagram account in 2011, Ripple has amassed over 14,000 followers, many of whom engage with her for her expertise and insight into things such as parenting, travel and sustainability.

And when it comes to getting her daughter to eat healthy food, Ripple’s influence has clearly rubbed off. Here we take a look at a few ways you can try to get your kids to eat more healthily, plus a little insight from the Queen of eating green herself.

Lead by example

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that every child is different, so when you’re trying to show your kids how important it is to eat the right foods, just saying ‘do this or do that’ isn’t the answer,” says Ripple. “But like a lot of parents, when Miley started eating her greens I had to be the example for her.

“At first she looked at me apprehensively, but when she saw I was doing it – and more importantly that I was enjoying it – she would follow me. I think kids develop a sense of FOMO pretty early,” she laughs.

“I definitely got lucky thought because, in Miley’s case, she realised pretty quickly that she actually likes the taste of eating fruit and vegetables so that of course makes things easier.”

Don’t be too soft

There are many situations where parents need to pick their battles – where you think to yourself, ‘can I let this go?’ or ‘is this fight worth it?’ For Ripple, when it came to getting Miley to eat her fruit and veg, it was definitely a case of the latter.

“Kids quickly get a sense of how far they can push things in terms of manipulating their parents,” says Ripple, “so I think it’s important that, for the things that really matter, you don’t take no for an answer. When it comes to the food my daughter eats, I’m not willing to compromise because it’s really important to me. If that means I have to bring down the iron fist then so be it. It’s worth it.”

Make it fun

It’s possible that leading by example and ruling with an iron fist simply don’t work with your kids; in which case switching from bad cop to good cop may be an option.

One thing kids and adults always will have in common is that we all tend to taste with our eyes before we taste with our mouths. So how about presenting fruits and veggies in interesting, more kid-friendly ways? This one requires quite a lot of effort, and no shortage of skill and creativity, but the payoff in terms of attracting your child towards the right kinds of food will be worth it.

Check out Buzzfeed’s animal snacks to make with kids for some inspiration.

Make it seem like a treat

Children have been locked in an uneasy relationship with vegetables for decades. Indeed, some scientific research even suggests that it is actually a natural survival instinct for young humans to avoid them. This is apparently because vegetables often contain a compound that makes them bitter, and bitter-tasting things, evolutionarily-speaking, have a higher chance of being dangerous.

There’s no such excuse with fruit however, which is generally sweet, juicy and delicious – there’s a reason why so much candy is fruit flavoured you know. A lot of people crave something sweet after a savoury meal, so if you can get your kids into the habit of seeing fruit as that post-meal treat – that reward for eating their yucky broccoli – then you might just have hit the jackpot.

Cook at home

Cooking at home is perhaps one of the best ways of introducing your kids to new tastes and flavours. It’s also a great opportunity to get them involved in food preparation process and teach them about ingredients, measurements and portion sizes. Plus it’s a nice way of getting everyone together for some quality family time.

“We eat a lot of home cooked food as a family; my mother-in-law is a really good cook and she always cooks really balanced meals. So eating meat and vegetables – a mixture of foods – has just become normal for Miley now.”

If you’d like to follow Ripple and Miley’s adventures you can do so by following @ripplesim on Instagram. You can also see them in action earlier this year on Mother’s Day edition of Cook, Share, Love by Cold Storage.

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