This post is sponsored by Hidden Valley® Ranch.  Discover how you can make vegetables delectable!

One of the reasons it seems like such a battle to get kids to eat well is because they keep getting smarter and smarter. Just when you think you’ve figured out how to trick them into doing what you want, they catch on to what you’re doing. They’re like little Terminator robots, constantly recalibrating their brains to fight you even harder than before.

Take Annie, for example. For a while I felt good that I could get her to eat a slice of wheat toast by spreading a bit of jam onto it, but then she realized she could just lick the jam off the toast and toss the healthy wheat-y goodness aside. Game, set, match, to Annie. Hasta la vista, Dada.

Luckily, Annie has yet to figure out all my tricks, and there are three especially that help ensure Annie eats healthy each day.

1. Make Eating Fun

I pray that no one ever puts a hidden camera in our kitchen because Heather and I embarrass ourselves every day when we feed Annie. We use funny voices, dance, and even sing as we prepare her food. Want Annie to eat broccoli? Sing a little of Dana Carvey’s “Choppin’ Broccoli” and she will clean her plate. This won’t always work, I know, but if we find other ways to make healthy eating fun we should be okay.

2. Let Your Kid Feel Like They Are Being Grown-Up

Annabel taught me very quickly that kids like to be self sufficient. The second she understood she could use utensils she decided she was done letting me spoon feed her. If I tried, she would firmly say, “Annie do it!” and grab the spoon. At first I was annoyed – especially considering the mess she made when she fed herself – but then I realized I could use this to my advantage. Mwahahaha!!! I started giving Annie a spoon and a bowl of healthy food – like mashed sweat potato or steamed carrots – and let her at it. She was so excited to be able to feed herself like a big kid that she ate every last bite.

my trainer
“Annie do it!”

This trick still works with a little alteration. Annie will eat anything – even veggies many adults still struggle with – as long as you give her a personal bowl of salsa to dip it in. ‘Cause dipping is for big kids, y’all.

3. Treat All Foods The Same

Remember when our parents told us we had to eat all our vegetables or we couldn’t leave the table? I do, and it made me see veggies as bad and different than other food (after all, my parents never had to threaten me to finish my chocolate cake). To avoid making that same mistake, Heather and I do our best not to treat healthy foods any differently than we treat not-so-healthy foods. We hand Annie a piece of celery in the same way we hand her a cookie, and so far she has no idea that some people don’t think veggies are fun to eat!

These tricks have been working great for us with Annie. Here’s hoping they work at least a bit longer before our little Terminator catches on to us. What tricks do you have that keep your little Terminators eating well?