Children are the pickiest eaters around. At times, it seems impossible to get them to eat anything even remotely healthy. Childhood obesity is at an all time high, and the incidence of non-insulin dependent diabetes is on the rise, something not seen 10 years ago. It is vitally important to help your child get the best start in life, by encouraging healthy eating habits, so that they can avoid serious health consequences. Below are a few suggestions to get your children on the right path.
- Imitation: They are much more likely to eat healthy foods if they see mom and dad eating them.
- Fun with shopping: The grocery store is a great teaching tool. Let them pick out the fruits and veggies, and reinforce that their choice is going to help them become “big and strong”. Point out how pretty and colorful the food is, and include statements like “these carrots will make your eyes super powerful” or “broccoli has iron, which makes you strong and good at soccer” (or whatever their favorite activity is).
- Visit the local farmers market, visit gardens, or even grow a few veggies in your own back yard: This helps the kids connect to where the food came from.
- Let them help with cooking: Kids love to sample things that they helped to make. When they see the food from start to finish, they are less likely to turn up their nose when you put it in front of them at the dinner table.
- Sneak in veggies whenever you can: Puree veggies for use in other recipes; even grilled cheese sandwiches can have sweet potato puree mixed in with the cheese. Cauliflower and white beans can be pureed into a mac and cheese dish. I love the book by Jessica Seinfeld, Deceptively Delicious. It has some really inventive recipes.
- Experiment with dips: Kids love to dip things. Try carrot sticks, cucumber slices, whole wheat crackers, cherry tomatoes, apple slices, even avocado slices, paired with their favorite dip-ranch and peanut butter are typical favorites.
These are just a few suggestions. Remember that exercise is important too! Make sure they do something active every day. Good Luck!!
If you have any questions about this article, or anything else, please feel free to Ask Dr. Tara!! Or, if you have any tips or tricks to get kids to eat more healthy, please pass them along to our readers by commenting below!