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Tips for Kids

Overview

Broccoli Boundaries & Radish Routines
Our 13-step methodology for inspiring kids to eat their veggies!

Kid eating cactus

95% of the elementary kids in our program gleefully taste new fruits and vegetables! They tell us it’s one of their favorite parts of our program. 

What’s the secret to our success?! Parents and caregivers, this one is for you!

Over the years, we have perfected a tried-and-true model that works every time. It’s been proprietary–until now. With COVID affecting the health of so many of us, it’s more important than ever to protect our health by eating well. We want everyone to have access to our model, because it works! 

Starting today, we will share 1 tip per day from our proprietary Broccoli Boundaries & Radish Routines methodology. Follow us on social media (Facebook & Instagram) to learn more and try these at home with your kids. 

Broccoli Boundaries

These are a set of rules meant to create an environment where kids can succeed at eating their veggies. It’s important to build this healthy space, because when you’re trying to change a child’s behavior, you have to start by changing knowledge and attitude first. Knowledge is easy. It’s the attitude that causes so many hurdles! Once we set up an environment to change our children’s mindset (and our own!), the road to eating veggies is much shorter!

Radish Routines

Once we’ve created a healthy environment for successful veggie eating, we must repeat healthy behaviors over and over again until they become habits. That’s where our Radish Routines come in. Keep practicing these until they stick!

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Check Your Diet at the Door

Broccoli Boundary #1
Check Your Diet at the Door

Want your child to be a Food Adventurer? Want them to get excited to try new foods? We ask all our staff and volunteers to start with this Broccoli Boundary: Check your diet at the door. 

In our schools, we work with children who don’t have enough food at home. We don’t want to shame anyone for the foods they eat. This work isn’t about vegans or keto or any of that. It’s about adding healthy, tasty fruits and veggies to kids’ lives. These are foods kids don’t get enough of–in fact, only 4% of kids are protecting their health by eating enough of them. 

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Don't Yuck My Yum

Broccoli Boundary #2
Don't Yuck My Yum

Most kids have an automatic response to new foods: “Eww! Gross!” It’s up to us to create a healthy boundary to set kids up for success. Our rule at Food Literacy Center: “Don’t Yuck My Yum!” We’re trying to change kids’ attitudes towards new, healthy foods. We tell them that something they don’t like may be their friend’s very favorite thing. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. 

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There is no "Kid Food"

Broccoli Boundary #3
There is No "Kid Food"

Children are exposed to 4,000 food-related ads every year, nearly all of them for “kids” products high in sugar, fat, and salt. Meanwhile, a study in Scotland found that in 30% of households, kids are getting separate meals from the adults. What if we just eliminate the idea that kids have their own foods?

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Stop Hiding Vegetables

Broccoli Boundary #4
Stop Hiding Vegetables

It’s time to stop hiding vegetables. It sends a message to our kids that vegetables are the worst. We must hide them, because having them out in plain sight is offensive. Who could bear to eat their spinach without grinding it to oblivion and hiding it behind bananas? Adults love to “trick” their kids into eating their vegetables, which tells kids that vegetables are a cruel joke being played on them rather than a delicious favor being bestowed upon them. 

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Make the Whole Recipe

Broccoli Boundary #5
Make the Whole Recipe

When we cook with new foods, kids aren’t always ready for every new ingredient in the recipe. That’s okay. At Food Literacy Center, most of our recipes are made to taste great even if one or two items are omitted. However, we’re trying to get kids to explore and taste before they form an opinion about what they do or don’t like. So, it’s important for kids to make the whole recipe.

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Eat a Fruit or Veggie with Every Meal or Snack

Radish Routine #1
Eat a Fruit or Veggie with Every Meal or Snack

Practice makes perfect! This simple mantra is easy to repeat and helps kids develop the habit of eating healthy. It’s hard to measure how many servings of vegetables are in a soup, or to track what your child ate all day. Did they eat two servings? Two cups? How can you keep up?

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Positive Affirmation

Radish Routine #2
Positive Affirmation

If you aren’t in the habit of eating vegetables (and only four percent of American children are!), the thought of dining on daikon for dinner might make a child quiver. So, we’re going to take baby steps to get there. Rather than starting with a brown rice and kale salad, our program starts simply with a peanut butter sandwich. 

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Produce of the Day

Radish Routine #3
Produce of the Day

While Radish Routine #2, Positive Affirmation, tenderly targets the start of a child’s food journey, Produce of the Day seeks to knock their socks off with new, wild exploration. At Food Literacy Center, we use these approaches simultaneously. While the recipes in our curriculum are gradually building from familiar to daring, our Produce of the Day jumps straight to the bold end of the line. The stakes are smaller with Produce of the Day, because it’s a tasting program, rather than a whole meal or snack. 

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Eat with the Seasons

Radish Routine #4
Eat with the Seasons

We live in food paradise! Sacramento, California has a four-season growing year, so we’re spoiled with freshly harvested produce year-round. We believe that eating seasonally, as often as possible, changes people’s experiences with food. 

Have you ever eaten a tomato in the middle of winter? You know the ones—they’re more orange than red and they bounce without cracking. They also lack flavor. But what about eating a tomato in summer? They burst with juices, and their aroma intoxicates. Which tomato would you rather eat? 

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Kid's Choice

Radish Routine #5
Kid's Choice

By now, you might have picked up on a uniting thread to our approach: kids choose! When possible, we let them pick the Produce of the Day. We build Broccoli Boundaries to prevent kids from yucking someone else’s yum, but we don’t take away their choice to refuse a taste. If children have a negative experience with a food, they’re less likely to ever give it another try. So, let them choose.

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When All Else Fails, Offer Incentives

Radish Routine #6
When All Else Fails, Offer Incentives

Some kids are stubborn. Despite your cheerleading and positive affirmation, they might just be in a bad mushroom mood. When all else fails, try offering rewards for healthy behaviors. At Food Literacy Center, we discovered that few kids can resist a sticker. It’s a rare child who will turn down the offer of an exchange for a bite of beetroot. 

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Cook

Radish Routine #7
Cook

Studies show that kids are more likely to eat a meal that they’ve helped cook. So, get them engaged in the kitchen. Our recipe instructions provide specific directions for kids and cooking demo videos with step by step instructions. We also have a video of our favorite kitchen tools for kids and we show you how each one is used!

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Be a Role Model

Radish Routine #8
Be a Role Model

Kids are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate! When kids see their parents eating healthy, they are more likely to eat healthy, too. If you want to protect your child’s health, you need to make a lifelong commitment to eat your veggies. Do it for the kids!

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