I don’t like Brussels spouts. Why does broccoli look like trees? Vegetables make me throw up. Why can’t we just order McDonald’s?
We’ve all heard these phrases or something similar uttered by children. Choosing meals that will please picky children can be difficult when planning family meals. However, maneuvering around your child’s eating habits might be easier than you imagine. Here are seven tips from The Legacy Companies that can bring the family together during dinnertime and foster healthy eating habits.
Pay attention to patterns: Many children who are pre-school age have not adjusted to chewing certain foods and those in elementary school are starting to lose teeth, which can make it difficult for them to chew. Try opting for dishes with softer consistencies such as chicken stew, mashed sweet potatoes and pasta.
Include the whole family: Studies show that many families are eating together less often due to the fast-paced society that we live in. However, leaving children to develop a taste for unhealthy snacks such as potato chips, soda and fast food. If time permits, include older children and younger children in the meal prep process and allow them to have a say in what they’d like to eat for dinner.
Don’t be an “Old-Fashioned” Parent: Some can remember a time when our parents use to tell us to “eat everything on the plate, or else.” According to modern day nutritionists, encouraging children to eat everything on their plates has contributed to high rates of obesity in the United States. If a child says, “that’s too much,” listen to them and only feed them what they can eat.
Hide Veggies in dishes they love: Spaghetti and macaroni and cheese are kid favorites. Try adding colorful vegetables such as squash, orange sweet peppers and zucchini to spaghetti. You can even add more tomatoes to the sauce. Incorporating small pieces of broccoli into macaroni will not only give it added color, but also add vitamin C, vitamin K and calcium to your child’s dish. To make meal favorites more nutritious try opting for whole grain pasta instead of pasta made with flour. You can encourage meal prep with the kids by making the pasta from scratch, either by hand or with a juicer like the Omega NC900, which can extrude pasta.
Tasty Desserts: Let’s face it, most kids love sweets. Eating sweets doesn’t have to be first class ticket to obesity. For instance, you can create delicious sorbets with fresh frozen fruits such as blueberries, strawberries and mangos will excite your child’s taste buds and satisfy their sweet tooth.
Make Yummy Snacks at Home: Pre-packaged bars, cookies and dried fruit can increase a child’s intake of sugar, preservatives and sodium. Expand your child’s view of snacking by offering healthier, yet still tasty, options. As a “DIY” project, dehydrate apple, mango and banana slices with an food dehydrator. Dehydrating food at home with kids will create a fun environment and also allow you to swap out those pre-packaged snacks for healthier alternatives.
Lead by Example: Kids usually grow up eating what their parents eat. Become extra excited about the foods you are eating. Say words like “wow, this is so yummy!” and they will want a taste.
Published: December 2013