Simple tricks to get fussy children to eat healthy food
One of the easiest way to get children to eat healthy is to get them started from the minute they are able to eat solid food. Food preferences they develop in their early years remain fairly stable and are reflected by the food choices they make in later childhood. They will only want what they are used to eating, and therefore being a role model is of the utmost importance! What you eat will set the tone for what your children are likely to consume.
But kids are picky…let’s face it. However, we need to give try equip them for the rest of their lives! Here are my tips:
Make it look appealing
Use a variety of different colours, shapes and simple designs to grab your child’s attention. Use fresh fruit and veggies in this instance. Make a rainbow on the plate out of red bell pepper slices, carrots, corn kernels, celery sticks, blueberries and raspberries. Add some steamed cauliflower or a pile of (brown) rice on the ends for clouds!
Don’t give up
Parents who get discouraged by children who are picky eaters often stop trying to give them new foods, which could lead to future health problems. Research has shown that in most cases, parents can help their children learn to like new foods through multiple exposures (between 5 and 10) to new foods and opportunities to learn about food and eating. Just offer new foods often, asking your child to try a bite in a positive and supportive way. Although it doesn’t always happen, studies have shown that children will eventually learn to like the new food. Avoid the urge to throw in the towel and order a pizza. If you keep offering up fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains, they will eventually eat them.
Be a role model.
A recent study found that two and three-year-old children’s food preferences are significantly related to foods that their mothers liked, disliked, and never tasted. So, the more excitement and enjoyment you express about fruits and vegetables, the more likely your child will want to eat them too!
Taste is everything!
And once they dive in and eat them, they’d better be yummy! Make sure they are palatable for kids. At first, avoid those foods that are super healthy but also have very strong flavours, such as turnips, Brussels sprouts and onions. Take baby steps, and give them simple, yet delicious tasting whole foods.
Make sure they are hungry at meal times
It is vital that they don’t have sweets or heavy snacks that blunt their appetite before main meals. If they are hungry, they are more likely to eat what you have prepared for them.
Cook healthy meals ahead of time. Cut up fruits and veggies and cook some brown rice or quinoa so that you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen. These usually keep in the fridge for a few days. Even healthy homemade muffins can last up to four days.
Always eat together
This way you are teaching them good eating habits and structured eating patterns.
Eat the same things that you prepared for them! Eat well for your sake and theirs!
Remember, your kids are always observing you and what you do. Here’s an opportunity to set them up to have healthy eating habits for life. And, if the meals look good, taste good, and your family is enjoying the experience, you’ll all be healthier and happier.
Don’t restrict certain foods
Research also shows that not allowing children to eat certain foods only raises their desirability for that food. So help children learn that healthy foods like fruits and vegetables (all the time foods) can be eaten anytime, and that foods like sweets and desserts (sometimes foods) can be eaten once in a while.
Cook in healthy ways!
Small modifications in the way you prepare meals and snacks can make a big difference: Bake instead of fry; choose foods with whole grain or whole wheat instead of refined grains; give your child water or low-fat or skim milk instead of juice or soda, etc.
Try something new
Allow your child to try a new fruit or vegetable such as mango or papaya.
“What can we make with this?” Talk about how a certain fruit or vegetable, such an apple, is good for the body.
While cooking, talk about what each food does for the body! Bake carrot or zucchini muffins together. Discuss how carrots have special vitamins that are really good for the eyes.
Make a healthy snacks
Be creative: mix apple and peanut butter, try frozen fruit or home made iced lollies, cut whole wheat or rye bread into shapes…or crush a supplement like Marcus Rohrer Spirulina into their smoothie. The choices are endless!
Go grocery shopping together
If they can assist in food choices, they are more likely to eat them. This is a great way to learn about nutrition and food! Let them watch you cook and make meal times a happy time!
A positive attitude at the start of a meal is invaluable
Marcus Rohrer Spirulina™ is available in all health shops, pharmacies, Dis-Chem, Clicks, Pick n Pay, Wellness Warehouse and Medi-Rite.