Fussy Eater Frenzy - How do I get nutrients into my kids?
By Stephanie Forgues, New Leaf Wellness
I know it, I’ve seen it - we’ve all got a picky eater in our family. I urge you - Don’t give up!
There are several ways to introduce your kids to good quality healthy foods. Here are 10 tips to try so you can be sure your kids will “Grow up big and strong” as the old saying goes.
- Practice what you preach. Monkey see, monkey do. Kids look up to their parents, if their parents model healthy choices, kids will likely follow.
- Try try again - if it doesn’t work the first time you present it, prepare it a different way next time. Didn’t like it raw? Lightly steam it. The baked version didn’t go over so well? Try it in a soup. Doesn’t like meat? Don’t fret about their iron and protein intake - give them beans to try! Kids love to pick them up, put them in a line on their plate, and count them. Let them play with their food if it means they are trying something new and nutritious.
- Make it fun and get creative. Decorate their plate using the colours of their foods to make a rainbow, something you should teach them anyway. The different colours in foods all have diverse nutrients with delicious health benefits their growing bodies crave.
- Expect that they will like it. If mom or dad is sending something in the direction of a picky eater’s mouth and their faces are cringing with anticipation that it will be rejected, they likely will tighten their lips before it gets in. Smile and make ‘yum’ sounds while you eat it, then try it on them.
- Share enthusiasm about making healthy food choices. Let them hear you talking about new foods you’ve tried or how certain foods make you feel.
- Make it available. Use a small chunk of Sunday afternoon to wash and chop fresh fruits and vegetables (kids can help with some aspects of this job). Dust off that veggie tray you reserve for potlucks and bridal showers, and fill it up. This gives them easy access to healthy snacks throughout the week. A kid will likely never come home from school and peel and chop a handful of carrots. Have it handy and see what happens!
- Little dippers - veggies are more appealing to kids when they can be dipped - again this is making it more fun, right?! Make or buy healthy dips to get that added boost of nutrients. Try hummus, guacamole, bean dips, or nut butters.
- Let them choose some of the produce at the grocery store - or coming soon, the local farmer’s market! If they are part of the decision process, it may tweak some interest as to what these new foods taste like.
- Make health a family affair, talk openly about why we eat healthy food. I think the saying ‘You will grow big and strong’ is old school, and they’re just not buying it anymore, try something new such as “this food is good for your brain and will help you learn and focus at school, or be faster in sports, or makes your hair super shiny, or this is a food that has nutrients to put you in a good mood when you feel grumpy” - again, be creative here. It’s your child; you know best what works for them.
- Don’t force it. Encourage them to try new things but if they really don’t like it, ease up on them and give them credit, what’s most important is that they tried it and at least some got into them. If you force them to eat things they don’t like, they may develop food issues as they grow into adults, which could lead to weight problems or other emotional problems. Keep food experiences as positive as possible.
Now go prep some healthy snacks and get your family excited about making healthy choices to ensure you all live life well.