Can you imagine your young ones ever sitting down to eat and uttering, “Parents dearest, this course is to my liking and I shall savor every molecule of it”? While we can’t give you recipes that will turn your little rascal into a dapper Englishman, we can help you choose good food for the entire family.
Let them make their own food
When we’re invested in something, we want to follow through on it. That applies to children, food and children eating food. Get your kids to buy groceries, plan meals and cook food together with you and they will be much more likely to eat it. You know that toddlers have their own preferences, so simply let them contribute to the process. You can even suggest no-fuss items such as frozen desserts that will make the tiny chefs burst with pride and glee.
Teach them about food
Show kids that food is a part of our world and our lives. For example, take them to the farmer’s market and let them talk to the farmers. Or, plant a little garden of your own in the backyard, where you’ll have tomatoes and melons. When in the countryside, teach them how to pick berries and explain how the cow turns grass into milk.
Keep healthy food within reach
If kids have healthy snacks available at all times, they will eat them on their own. Make sure you stock cabinets and drawers that the child can reach on its own. Even when they’re riding in a car, you can let them munch on raisins, sliced apples or baby carrots. If your kids get a habit of eating healthy snacks whenever they’re hungry, the temptation of eating fast food will ease up. Don’t forget water bottles!
Let them choose
Kids will always protest when things aren’t going their way, so give them the appearance of choice. But this doesn’t mean you should slave for an entire day over the stove, making a special meal for each kid. The ideal approach is to create a buffet with a base of starch (say, rice or pancakes), lean meat sauce and side dishes, such as lettuce, tomatoes or corn on the cob. Add in salsa, cheese, cabbage and you might even be able to slide in some cauliflower in there. This way of making food is especially great when you’re serving both adults and kids at the same table. If you apply the same mindset to packing healthy snacks, you can forget about your precious one stomping its feet and pouting come snack time.
Five servings of fruit a day? How about five cups of fruit smoothies a day? Now that will have kids’ ears perked up and eyes glistening. You can introduce brand new fruits, such as peaches, tangerines or melons that the kid might not look at twice in fruit form. Buy fun straws and let kids blow bubbles inside the cup, but as long as they finish their drink.
Lead by example
Children learn by imitating adults, which means your kids will like eating similar things that you do. Order healthy foods when you’re dining out and your kids will probably do the same as they grow up.A recent study has shown that children generally resist the first 5-10 attempts to taste a new food item. So, even though the resistance may be fierce at first, just be patient and don’t lose your calm. Keep offering and you’ll succeed in the end.
Introduce healthy food early on
Every meal and snack is a chance for your little one to learn about healthy food choices. You can find great resources for introducing healthy foods to babies and toddlers in online booklets, such as “Zero to Three”, hosted on PBS.org.
Bottom line is, we can convince our kids to eat healthier. The trick is to eat healthy yourself. Let them see that you’re really enjoying your veggie salad, and in time they’ll want to try it. Incorporate healthy vitamins and minerals into your kid’s diet, to help open their appetite. Glucosamine sulphate tablets, vitamin C, B vitamins, and more are highly recommended. But before including them into their diet, consult with their pediatrician.