Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scoring Points with Fruits and Veggies!

My sister recently shared this game she invented to help motivate her 2 little boys to eat more fruits and veggies and create a healthier diet. 


Think of your child's favorite animal, sport, action figure, princess etc, print it out and have you child color it.  If you access to a laminator laminate it.
Then google "fruit and veggie coloring pages" (or images, etc) and find a free printable worksheet that has a variety of small fruit and veggies, preferably the ones you know children will be most likely to eat.  Print them out in color, or in black and white and have your child help color them, laminate, cut, and put in a fruit basket or bowl.
Hang their character in an accessible place (i.e. fridge) and have the fruit basket close by so the kids can grab it themselves.
Choose a fun (highly motivating!!!) family outing or activity that you'll do together once they score their goal number of points.  
 Each time they eat a fruit or veggie tape the corresponding picture on their chart and start adding up the points! Each fruit or veggie picture represents one point.

In our house we use the following point system:
4 baby carrots=1 pt
6 grapes=1 point
1/2 canned green bean or canned corn=1 pt
4 large apple slices=1 pt
1/2 an orange=1pt
3 broccoli heads=1pt
10 blueberries=1 pt
3 strawberries=1 pt

We just started this and my 5 year old is highly motivated to earn his points so he can enjoy his activity! So it's really been fun to focus on eating more fruit and veggies while earning the chance to do an extra fun family outing.  We started this last Friday and the goal was to earn 10 points by Monday--thats 4 days to earn 10 points, so just over 2 points a day, good for starters.  Our family outing was bowling.  We went and had a blast!  Our next goal is to earn 10 more points by Saturday so we can go swimming.

Have fun with it tweak and adjust accordingly.

Here are a few more ideas to make eating fruit and veggies fun!

Cut orange slices into smiles an call them crocodile smiles, tell them they have to stretch and pull each end of the smile to make the teeth pop out...boys love this one!
Call broccoli "trees" instead of broccoli
Cut carrots into circles and call them carrot wheels
Cut apple slices into smaller bite-sized pieces and call them shark teeth (can you tell I'm a mom of all boys!!)

I've also had great success getting the boys to eat their food at dinner by including them in the process of chooses and making it.  This doesn't mean you are a short-order-cook and only make what they want, but rather you tell them--I did this will Seth last week and it worked great--"We are having taco soup for dinner on Friday, it's your turn to choose what bean combination we'll add, so it's your job to pick out the ingredients."  I then told him we need at least two kinds of beans and then he could choose whether we have diced tomatoes or just tomato sauce.  I asked if he wanted meat or no meat.  This process was partly to educate myself and learn what he did and didn't like about my soup.  Seth choose kidney beans, and black beans, and yes on meat and no on diced tomatoes, and yes on tomato sauce. He choose a healthy version of tortilla chips (well as healthy as chips can be!) and guess what?!  Seth ate an entire bowl without complaint.  Now I know how I need to adjust my recipe to make it something the whole family will enjoy without complaint-- which is always a major bonus at dinner time.

I've also noticed the power of not only offering choices, but also allowing them to serve themselves the fruit or vegetable side that's being served at dinner.  I guess it helps them be more accountable to eat the food they put on their plate.

And of course it's always fun (albeit messy!) to invite them in the kitchen and have them help mix the waffle batter, or stir the eggs, or choose the seasoning they want on their fish, or help wash veggies etc.

What have you done to help your kids eat healthier?