Last week my younger niece, Isa Bella, stayed with us for four nights. I know she enjoyed her stay and playing with Uncle Luke (sometimes pronounced “look”). Yet, I sometimes struggle with what to feed her.
Okay, I tend to obsess about it.
When it comes to nutrition I tend to offer different foods than what she is used to getting at home. She is a real trooper and willingly tries new foods. For instance one morning I was slicing red bell peppers when she asked for a slice. I gave her one. She popped it in her mouth, said “yum” and asked for more!
Also, the last time we were in the grocery store she specifically asked me, “Tata can we get those? (pointing to the red bell peppers).” I was thrilled she wanted them! Red bell peppers are an excellent source of Vitamins A and C; plus they make a delicious raw snack.
But my child is a picky eater!
You’re not alone. I remember absolutely hating spinach and brussels sprouts growing up but now I cannot get enough of them!
So how do I get my kids to try new foods?
Whenever my nieces stay with me I remember to employ these three lessons I have learned from (ahem) previous stay-overs.
Kids are literally hands on and so when I am making breakfast or lunch I try to keep their food interactive. This last week I used a cookie cutter to make star shaped sandwiches and french toast.
I doubt she’ll enjoy the complexities of a fig blended goat cheese spread on a brioche raisin bread (although that sounds so good right now). Instead, I prepare their meals with as few ingredients as possible. The french toast I prepared was a slice of whole grain bread cut into “logs and stars”. It was dipped in an egg white mixture (2 egg whites, 1/2 yolk, 1 tbsp of milk, 1 tsp of vanilla, 1 tsp of cinnamon) and cooked over medium heat until golden and fluffy. We drizzled a small amount of syrup on top with apple slices and a cup of milk.
She finished everything and wanted more!
My Fiance and I eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and when my nieces come over they follow the way we eat: whole grains, vegetables, fruit and lean meats. Kids will often follow the same eating patterns as the adults in their lives. So lead by example and hopefully your child will follow in your footsteps.
I have no doubt Isa ate more vegetables and grains while staying with us and only had dessert once the entire week! No one needs, especially growing children, a bag of donuts nor should they have free access to candy and junk food. Instead, try treating fruit as dessert with drizzled honey or dark chocolate. Sliced apples with lemon juice are just as delicious, too!
What healthy snacks do you give your young ones?
The American Dietetic Association states “Experts are adamant that parents should not put babies or children on diets or restrict nutrient-rich foods.” When we give children junk food or sweets we are denying them nutrient dense foods they need to grow and develop.
Let’s get back to basics and rediscover the wonderful tastes of fruit and vegetables!
- Children’s nutrition: 10 tips for Picky Eaters (MayoClinic.com)
- Kid’s Recipes, including special diets (KidsHealth.org)
- Nutrition Education Games (Nourish Interactive)
I’ve taught my kids to eat a variety of vegetables by giving it to them in small doses.
Tabitha! Wonderful article! I always seem to run into friends and family who try to tell me their kids will not eat healthy. It’s always chicken nuggets! They won’t eat anything but chicken nuggets! My daughter is picky, and sometimes she likes certain veggies that suddenly get on her bad side the next week, but she understands healthy is important. If you say it enough times, your kids start to believe you! It’s magical, lol. She is way more likely to enjoy whatever were having when she had a part in the cooking process, I’ve noticed. Anyway thanks for the article! Your niece is adorable!
Great idea Mireya! Small amounts seem much more appealing than a heaping pile of green stuff on any dinner plate. 🙂
Juan Haffer says
Such a good article! If we can train kids early to eat right then they have such a higher probability of eating well later in life. Really, if there is any way to teach kids healthy eating it is by showing them by our example and starting as soon as possible.
I remember eating when I was a child it was ALWAYS a fight. I think my Mom could have benefited from rule #1. If it wasn’t PB&J I wouldn’t touch it.
Tigerlilly – yes, I too find involving my nieces in the cooking process is a great way to get them to try to new things! Thanks!
Thanks Juan! Your words are all too true!
I remember pushing my food around the plate. Somehow I thought that if I spread it out over the plate Mom would think I ate more! Actually, I just ended up sitting at the table longer. :/
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