1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Get the Grandkids to Eat Fruits and Vegetables

Modern Grandparents Favor Healthy Foods for Kids

By

Modern grandparents usually reject the cookies-candy-and-soda diet that grandchildren enjoyed at the hands of their grandparents in an earlier time. Modern grandparents know the importance of healthy foods for kids, but they may not know how to get the grandkids to eat them. These tips could help you feel good about what you are feeding your grandchildren without costing you your most-favored status.

1. Let the Grandchildren Choose.

Grandchildren will be way prouder of fruit when they pick it themselves, and more likely to eat it.
Photo © L. Sanderson

Involve the grandchildren in choosing fruits and vegetables. The very best strategy is to involve them in growing produce, but that's not feasible for all grandparents. A second-best strategy is to take them to a pick-your-own farm or orchard, which can be a educational outing as well as a culinary exercise. Visiting a farmer's market where they can interact with the vendors is also fun, but even a supermarket offers ample opportunity to explore unusual types of produce.

2. Teach Them the Names.

Teach the grandkids the names of fruits and vegetables, like this Gala apple.
Photo © George Doyle / Getty
Most grandchildren are very interested in knowing the names of things. They just may be more likely to eat something if they know what it's called. Don't just teach them the generic name; teach them the varieties as well. At the store, let them select a Pink Lady apple, or a Honeycrisp. There's a reason why restaurants spend a lot of time naming their dishes.

3. Offer a Variety.

Let the grandkids have their choice of fruit to boost their healthy eating quotient.
Photo © Chris Stein / Getty

My seven grandchildren all have different preferences in fruits and vegetables, but it's easy to buy a variety. Just buy one or two of each type. Being exposed to the other grandkids' preferences could have a side benefit. Maybe while Grandchild #1 is chowing down on mango, Grandchild #2 will decide to try it.

4. Be a Cut-Up

Cut up vegetables to make an appealing platter for grandkids.
Photo © Ultra F. / Getty

Although some kids love handling and eating whole fruits and vegetables, most do better with small pieces. Kids also are very influenced by appearances. Cut their food into neat pieces or make fun shapes. Let older kids help with the cutting. Even toddlers can cut up bananas with a kitchen knife. Grapes should be cut up for children four and under to prevent choking. Use a squeeze of lemon juice or a commercial product to prevent browning, especially if children are grazers.

5. Dip in.

Try hummus dip with veggies, a healthy food for grandkids.
Photo © Jamie Grill / Getty

Kids who won't eat certain vegetables and fruit plain will often eat them with a dip. Try peanut butter, hummus, black bean dip or yogurt as a healthier alternative to the ubiquitous ranch dip; however, children who will eat vegetables with ranch or fruit with whipped topping are better off than children who won't touch any fruit or vegetables. Often they can be phased into trying them plain or with healthier accompaniments.

6. Serve Them Nicely.

Serve blueberries nicely to add eye appeal for the grandkids.
Photo © Sawayasu Keith Tsuji/Getty

Kids are often intrigued by special serving dishes and utensils. Put fruit in a pretty cup or bowl, and arrange vegetables on a plate or platter. Older kids will enjoy using toothpicks, skewers or tiny forks to spear their foods. They may also be more likely to nibble finger foods from a platter than if you place them on their own plates, where they may feel that they are being required to eat them.

7. Set a Good Example.

Grandfathers and grandmothers can be good role models by eating healthful foods.
Photo © Medioimages Photodisc / Getty

Research shows that the eating habits of the family have a powerful influence on children. Since grandparents usually have a special place in the hearts of their grandchildren, the foods they eat may be even more intriguing. Grandparents should avoid pushing new foods on their grandchildren, letting their natural curiosity lead them to asking for a taste.

8. Dine Al Fresco.

The grandchildren may eat more healthfully if you pack a picnic basket and eat outdoors.
Photo © Southern Stock / Getty

Take the kids on a picnic, or set up lunch on the patio. The novelty of eating out-of-doors will sometimes overcome their resistance to new foods. Also, they may accept what is offered if they are away from other alternatives. If the weather isn't conducive to being out-of-doors, spread out a blanket and have an indoor picnic.

9. Blend Them In.

Delicious smoothies are a sneaky way to get the grandchildren to eat more fruit.
Photo © Martin Poole / Getty

Although it's ideal for children to learn to enjoy fruits and vegetables in unadulterated form, they can be incorporated into other foods. Carrots that are grated very fine are almost undetectable in spaghetti sauce, for example. Kids may also enjoy making their own smoothies.

10. Relax.

A relaxed attitude in the kitchen makes eating more pleasant for grandparents and grandchildren.
Photo © Jupiterimages / Getty

There's nothing more counter-productive to culinary adventure than pressure. Don't pressure your grandchildren to eat their fruits and vegetables. Some experts say that children may have to be exposed to a food 50 times before they develop a taste for it. If you offer very small portions, it won't break the budget if they go uneaten. Do your best; then let it go.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.