Kids can be tough little picky eaters. But, the importance of childhood nutrition is huge. However, the adults around them shouldn’t be. You, as an adult, are there to provide guidance and show them the food in the world isn’t a scary thing.
Embrace trying new things and be sure to take a moment to show them you will try something new too. While you may have had that food in the past, they haven’t seen you eat it, so why would they.
Child health and nutrition is very important these days. As kids grow they will need more nutrients to run and play. Yes, you need to get them outside to run and play. Kids are made to play and explore the world around them and you should certainly encourage that.
While some of us have a bit of a sweet tooth, this is a learned behavior. Try to keep sweets as treats and not something you have in your home all the time. This will show the kids healthy food choices and will help them steer clear of lots of cookies and candies.
While we all love our sweets, we can buy them from time to time, but you should really limit how often they are offered. While most parents don’t think about it, drinks are calories too.
However, drinks for kids should be water or milk mostly. As juice is another option, but this option is loaded with sugar. To keep the sugar content down, some parents will dilute the juice.
1- Food is not Love
While we all love food to some degree, we are taught at a young age if it is a reward. When parents reward their kids with a treat for being good or a treat for finishing their plates, this puts a person’s mindset that food is a reward.
This is something that can lead to overeating as an adult as well as having eating disorders and problems later in life. If you want to reward your child for doing something good, offer love, affection, and praise.
This will help them grow with a healthy thought process of food. We all know that one person that comfort eats, well, this is one way they got there. It is psychological and is from their childhood.
2-Be the adult
They are watching you. Child health and nutrition is dependent on you. Yes, they see you eating and snacking all day, so what do you think they are going to do?
While you watch tv or other leisurely activities, don’t always bring a snack. It is also known that kids that have too much screen time, tend to have weight issues.
So, limit the screen time. You are an adult and you can do this. You are their food supply, literally. They can only eat what you have in your home. So, choose wisely.
While you can grab the occasional “treat”, be sure that the food supply the kids have to choose from is for the most part, healthy. Limit the sugar treats and other chips and snacks that are not healthy.
If you have a hard time saying no, well, then don’t have it in the home altogether. This is a simple rule that will allow them to grow up healthy and happy with good food choices.
Don’t ever tell a child to clean their plate. While this is ideal, a child will naturally stop eating when they are full. Don’t try to shove “one last bite” down them, as this is the beginning of stretching their stomachs and setting them up for weight issues down the road.
Instead, let them have choices on how much food they want on their plate and of what types. Have a variety at mealtime and have mealtime at the same time each night, when possible.
This will set up a routine that mealtime is when we eat and not whenever we feel like. We eat less when we eat meals rather than grab and go whenever meals.
Start introducing your kids to new foods and textures young. They are most likely to try anything you suggest at a very young age. As they grow they will find their independence and become more defiant.
3-Substitute things that they might like better or not notice
Try to get them to eat whole wheat bread. Remember, you are their food source, so they won’t have white bread unless you buy it. Also, use whole grain pasta when possible or if you are looking for even fewer calories, zucchini noodles are a great alternative and healthy.
Hide vegetables in the spaghetti sauces and soups to give them additional veggies, should they not like them plain. As they get older, let them know what you have done so they can carry on the tradition of making things healthier like you do.
4-Make dishes appealing
Get creative with your presentation. Kids will be drawn to the dish. Making fun shapes and putting together fun sizes will draw kids to the dish. If you are working on getting kids to eat veggies for example, add a little dipping sauce to the plate.
Salsa is great for you and most kids don’t even realize that it is. Having some salsa on a celery stick is yummy. Or put peanut butter on it too for a healthy, yet fun snack.
5-Listen to your child
Meal time used to be coming together as a family. During mealtime shut off the tv and phone and listen to your child. Talk about food and what they really liked about tonight’s dinner.
Also, ask them what their favorites are and ask them, from time to time, what they would like for dinner. Dinner isn’t always about food but it is about the time you spend together.
Your child will form a bond over food and will be more open to try new things. Keep bringing in new things and recipes. There are plenty of options out there on the internet to try.
Put in some ingredient you have on hand and see what pops ups. You can even do this with the kids and see what they want to try. This is a fun way to come up with a dinner plan. You can even do this on Sunday, so everyone knows what is for dinner for the entire week.