The Daily Beet

08 Jan Plant-strong kids

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Making the change to a plant-strong diet can be tough for adults, but imagine making the change as a kid! It can be a difficult transition for some, but we have seen so many kids make the change and end up loving the plant-strong life! Here are some tips (and fun games) to helping your kids become plant strong:

1. Patience! Chances are that you had trouble making the change, your kids might as well. Try to keep your calm and not be angry with them for not liking certain foods (or when you don’t buy the junk food anymore).

2. Make sure healthy food is easily available. Have healthy food ready to go for them in the kitchen. Washed grapes, cut up fruit, vegetables that they enjoy, nuts or seeds.

3. It’s okay if they only like a few things. As adults some of us like a HUGE variety of food, but often for children they might only like a few different foods, and that is okay. If your child only likes potatoes, corn, broccoli, chickpeas, avocado, whole grain pasta and fruit, that is perfectly okay. Many children have a hard time with the bitter taste of some vegetables, so it is understandable why they might not enjoy them. Find the things they DO like and stick to them, and occasionally introduce a new food or two so they can try something new. Chances are your child likes a lot more food than you think!

4. Involve them in the process. Have them help with a grocery list. Let them pick out a few things at the store with you from the produce section. If they are old enough, let them help you cook! As young as 4 or 5 your child can help with certain things in the kitchen. Get them involved in their diet!

5. Make it fun! Why not play a couple of games? Make a big rainbow (make sure that each of the colors of the rainbow are pretty wide) and then draw lines down the rainbow so that you make 7 slots on the rainbow. Every day it is the goal of your family to eat something from each color. If they check off each box, maybe a little reward (non food).

Or – get a muffin tin, fill each of the muffin slots with different foods – potato wedges, beans, whole grain pasta, fruit, cut up vegetables, seeds and a couple of dipping sauces (like hummus, a healthy ketchup, or other plant-strong dressing). Let your kids decide what they want to have from the little portions in front of them. To make it fun – put a some stickers on the bottom of some of the muffin slots – when they are finished with dinner, if they ate something from one of the marked slots they get a little prize. This will encourage them to try every thing in their muffin tray!

6. Alternatives: Try ALL of the non-dairy milks. We also suggest not giving them to the kids plain (like in a glass of non-dairy milk) but instead on their cereals, this way there are a bunch of different tastes.

7. Give them water! There is no need to give kids juice or other liquid calories, get your kids drinking water!

8. “Ice-Cream” making plant-strong ice-cream is easy! Take some bananas when they have a few brown spots, peel them, chop them up, put them in a freezer safe container and throw them in the freezer. The next day – toss them in a blender with a little non dairy milk – and you have an AMAZING ice-cream! You can try all different kinds of frozen fruit as well, just pick up some bags of frozen fruit the next time you are at the store.

Most importantly, remember that this is one big plant-strong adventure in health! You are making changes that will have a long lasting impact for your children! It is important to get them eating healthy and active at this age so they don’t have problems later on. It all starts with you (and your partner), set a healthy example of what plant-strong living is all about. Get active as a family and enjoy food together as a family as well!

Become a plant-strong family!

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Ami Mackey for Engine 2
Ami Mackey

Ami Mackey is the Curator of Creative Content at Engine 2. She is also a food coach at Engine 2 and has been plant-strong since 2011. When she isn't attending to all things Engine 2, she is the Program Director at St Louis All City Boxing a nonprofit youth program. She has earned certificates from eCornell in Plant-Based Nutrition & Fitness Nutrition from NASM.

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