Playing with your food: How to make mealtime fun!

Playing with your food: How to make mealtime fun!

Like 99% of parents, I struggled to get my kids to eat their veggies. When my daughter was two, she ate everything. By the time she was five, her plate was white. How could it be that she loved broccoli one week, and hated it the next? Desperate for a solution, I turned to the one thing I knew how to do – make it fun!

Kids naturally want to play – it’s how they learn. So take their lead and try these playful dinner ideas for making mealtime fun and ending battles over broccoli.

  1. Dinner Improv. Start with the youngest person at the table. The first player starts the story, and each player builds on by adding a sentence or two.  Play continues clockwise around the table for as many rounds as your story can support. For example, the first player says, “On a dark, blustery winter day I heard a knock at our door.” The next player adds, “I peeked out the window and spotted a giant hippopotamus!” And so on.
  2. Tomato. Decide who is going to be “It!” Players take turns asking questions to whomever is “It”. Every answer has to end with the word “Tomato.” For example, a player asks, “What do you wash your hair with?”  The person who is “It” answers, “Tomato!” The first person to make “It” laugh wins a turn at being “It!”
  3. Crunch a Color™. Created out of my own need to make dinner fun and healthy, Crunch a Color™ is a mealtime game that makes eating a balanced meal fun. Kids earn points for eating servings of veggies, fruits, proteins and grains. Bonus points for good manners and trying new foods. Some kids like collecting the veggie friends, others love racking up points — but at its core Crunch a Color™ works because it makes mealtime fun and it empowers kids to make healthy choices for themselves. In a playful way, kids are rewarded for eating a balanced meal and trying new foods while learning about meal composition, portion control, and table manners. The game also encourages families to cook, share and enjoy healthy foods together – an important part of how we’ll win the fight against childhood obesity. Profits support non-profit children’s nutrition programs, including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, FoodCorps, and Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard.


But don’t let me tell you what to do. Take it from my kids. Listen to them tell the story of how they went from being picky eaters to healthy eaters by making mealtime fun.

Jennifer Tyler Lee

Jennifer Tyler Lee is the author of The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year (Penguin Random House/Avery 2014) and the creator of the award-winning series of healthy eating games, Crunch a Color®.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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