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How to get kids excited about their healthy menu choices

By Katya Baxter, Nutritionist,

Everyone knows that kids and broccoli don’t go together. But the task still remains: we have to find ways to get kids excited about more nutritious and more balanced food.

So if replacing french fries with baby carrots doesn’t always do the trick, what other options do we have?

When creating healthful kids menus, I believe the most important thing to understand is the buying behavior of our customer. Just like the rest of us, kids buy on emotion. While on any regular day they may not be interested in a mushroom quiche with a side of greens, they might change their mind if this same dish has some type of an emotional appeal.

And this is precisely why it is so important to create a menu that gets them engaged, gives them an opportunity to make their own decision, offers fun and colorful dishes,  and creates a perception that they are getting something ‘cool and hip’.

Here are several examples:

  1. Engage them. Whether it is assembling your own whole wheat sandwich or shaking your own olive oil salad dressing – once kids get to participate in the process, they are that much more likely to eat the dish that they ‘helped’ to prepare.
  2. Create a fun presentation. From creative names, to fun shapes of food, to unusual containers in which food is served – use your imagination to make their dining experience different and exciting.
  3. Don’t be afraid to sound ‘weird’. Kids love anything that sounds ‘weird’! Who would have thought that packaging gummy candy in a shape of a worm would be such a hit? Yet, kids love their gummy worms and other things like bear’s claw, cheez-whiz, string cheese, or curly fries, etc. Why not give unique and ‘weird’ names to some of the more healthful dishes on the menu?
  4. Offer as much variety as possible. More and more parents choose to pick and choose individual smaller items from the menu. Combo meals always work great as well as a selection of small plates or multiple side dishes. Plus, kids love to have choices because it makes them feel like they are in control. Provide them with healthy choices, and you will end up with a well nourished child and a grateful parent.

What techniques have you been using to make healthful kids’ choices more attractive?

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