We parents can resort to the ultimate weapon - Parental Authority - and force our kids to eat healthy foods, but in the end that's a losing strategy. For one thing, it won't always work and opposition will increase with every battle. Then, too, that strategy turns the dinner table into a war zone that is destructive to family harmony and cooperation.

So the real question is: how do we teach our kids to WANT to eat healthy food? Here are 7 ideas that have worked well in my own family.

1. Add Fun To Your Meals

Kids are naturally suspicious of new foods and handing them a bowl of tofu, insisting that they eat up, will only provoke stubborn (and possibly lifelong) resistance. Children aren't concerned about 'healthy' eating - they only want food that tastes good.

So add some fun to your meals. A huge hit in my house were ice cubes that had favorite ingredients inside: a sprig of mint, a berry or a piece of frozen peach were favorites. When their friends came to visit, they also wanted some of that "cool ice your mom makes".

I lured my kids into eating alfalfa sprouts when we made food "sculptures". We created mountains out of mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower and the sprouts were perfect for making a 'forest' on the sides and top of the mountain. Naturally, a few sprouts wandered into their mouths while we were building and they both decided they liked them after all.

2. Be Sensitive To Your Child's Feelings

My kids love chips so I sent blue corn chips to school in their lunch. Invariably, another kid at the table would ask, "Euuuuuuwwwwwwww ... What's that?" My son never cared what other people thought so this didn't bother him in the slightest. My daughter, however, didn't like the attention and so I quit sending them in her lunch.

3. Experiment With Healthy New Recipes On A Regular Basis

Have some adventures with food. Naturally, some of your recipes will be flops but it's a good way to coax your children into being more curious and open about new foods. The availability of the Internet means that there is a rich source of recipes available at any time. Choose some with your kids and let them have a voice in new meals.

And some of the experiments will become healthy stand-bys. My kids have always loved toast and jelly. I found a bread that is made of ground sprouts - no flour at all - and I make jams that are only fruit, water and a bit of stevia for sweetener. When you find foods your kids love they will eat them freely whether they're healthy or not.

4. Raise The NQ (Nutritional Quotient)

Many rather ordinary foods can become powerhouses, practically radiating with energy and power. And the best part ... the kids (and hubby) won't even know it.

For example, carrot purees can be added to tomato-based foods like chili, pizza and spaghetti sauce and, unless you get too enthusiastic with the amounts, the addition isn't noticeable.

Or, my kids love creamed potatoes and creamed tuna. I use a Weight Watcher recipe that has no fat and use unsweetened almond milk. The sauce looks thick and rich just like high-calorie cream sauce.

5. Sneakiness Just Might Pay Off

One thing that turns folks off any food is strangeness. We like familiar textures and colors and any food that is "weird" will be viewed with suspicion. Fortunately, today it's easy to find healthier substitutes for many foods.

My kids love chili dogs and always got excited when we had them for dinner. What they didn't know is that they were eating vegetarian wieners and I make the chili with a veggie product, instead of beef. They also wanted lots of mustard and onions, plus a bit of cheese. Little did they know that only the cheese was "junk food".

My son-in-law and his brother always insisted that "that vegetarian stuff" wasn't for them so one night I fixed burgers and fries for them. As you've already guessed, the burgers were veggies, the fries were baked in the oven with almost no oil and the ketchup was organic. They both stuffed themselves! Only after they were extremely full did I reveal my terrible little secret. They were both good sports and were amused by the trick I had played on them. The important point is that they haven't sneered at my cooking and eating habits since that time.

6. Empower Your Children

Kids need to be able to make some decisions for themselves. This makes them feel more powerful and they are much more likely to cooperate if they believe they have some authority over their food. One way to do this is to frame the choices they have.

For instance:

* Do you want green beans or corn for dinner?
* Would you rather have raspberries or bananas on your breakfast cereal?

Or, you can explain the available choices for dinner and let them choose their favorite.

7. Don't Be TOO Tough

A child psychologist once told me that if I never allowed my kids to eat treats that when they were older, and in charge of their own eating, they would react to sweets like addicts to their drugs. So allow your kids some treats occasionally. Parents don't need to join the Food Police.

Will all 7 of these ideas work for you and your little ones? Probably not - but some of them will. How do I know? Because my kids are grown now and yet they still eat mostly healthy food. They're not as careful as I would like them to be ("Aw, Mom, do we have to eat ANOTHER salad?") but they are noticeably different from most of their friends. And guess what? Now my daughter is teaching my granddaughter to eat healthy foods instead of junk. Mom satisfaction oozes from every pore when I see my precious granddaughter eating fruit, instead of cookies. What we do matters.

Author's Bio: 

Sydney Johnston had a thyroid disease that the doctors couldn't cure so she healed herself with healthy foods and natural remedies. In celebration, she is offering a free one-year course on home remedies so that others can find inexpensive natural answers to their problems, just like she did.