Dealing with finicky children!
This is one of the best ways to get kids to eat healthy foods because they’ll feel like they’re choosing their meals, and you’re not forcing them to eat the meals you choose. Let them choose a portion of the meal each night, let them list your groceries with you, or do simple meal preparation steps like mixing or stirring the ingredients.
When shopping in the store, observe the foods that appeal to your child the most, and reward them for their help.
If he seems to be interested in this method, issue a challenge so he can eat a balanced meal on his own. Draw a diagram for each day of the week with boxes for proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables, and let him choose one food from each category.
Allow teens and older children to take care of the meal each evening. Tell them you will eat whatever they cook for as long as they do.
These days you will find plenty of themed summer camps as well as nutritional after-school programs, and this can be a good opportunity to teach them about healthy foods without having to do all the work yourself. Kids will feel more comfortable trying new things if their friends are doing it, and they can feel proud to bring home recipes or nutritional tips for you. Contact your local Parks and Recreation department for a list of these types of summer camps, or search online for children’s cooking classes available in your area.
If you don’t want your kids to know it, sneak vegetables into almost any meal. Try mashing or finely chopping a few vegetables in your kids’ favorite meals so that their diet has enough essential vitamins and minerals. Here are some tips to make it happen.
Slice onions, broccoli, peppers, and spinach into quesadillas or macaroni au gratin with cheese.
Add calcium-rich yogurt and fruit to your smoothies.
Finely chop eggplants, peppers, squash, or zucchini in your lasagna.
A dish adorned with smiling faces, even when made from peas, looks much more appetizing than a meal adorned with a stack of green foods, or gooey marbles. Occasionally use food coloring to make “green eggs and ham” or blue textured spaghetti squash. While you don’t need to overdo it, healthy food is super easy to put on the table, especially if it has a funny message to it.
Let them know the names of funny or exotic foods, like papaya, mango, zucchini, or Bok Choi.
Cut the vegetables into funny shapes.
Get the children to taste the food to “test the texture” before you put it on the table.
Introduce new things to your children. Ask them how they could cook something or tell them where the meals they eat comes from.
Don’t give in to your child’s mood by cooking another meal for them. You have to stick to the healthy meal that you put on the table. If you continue to cook him specialties, you tell him otherwise that the healthy meal you put on the table is not really important, and you encourage him to continue with his eating whims. Eat a meal and stick to it.
You can always offer a variety of choices to accompany the same meal such as spaghetti with red sauce or a little olive oil.
Put your meal on the table and let the kids choose what they want to eat, instead of making them a separate meal or serving them. Children like to feel like they are in control of their own decisions, and are likely to derive their behavior from your behavior. This strategy also prompts them to take a large amount of the new food on their plates, because they want to taste it first to get an idea and actually start eating.
Ask them to put a bit of everything on their plates, but let them choose how much.
Help yourself first so they can see how much of each food you eat.
You may need to introduce your new healthy food 10 to 15 times before they try it. Take your time and avoid yelling or forcing the child to eat.
This will only give him bad memories of the meal and you will have difficulty getting him to eat anything else later. Put the meal in front of them and ask them to try to enjoy it, but don’t be frustrated if they can’t finish the dish. Thank them for their effort and try another food.
Try to prepare food in different ways. For example, prepare raw vegetables one evening, cook them the next day, then steam them on the third evening. Show them that cooking changes the taste as well as the texture of the food.