This is the sixth installment in my “Eat Like a Nutritionist” series. Check out the other posts here.
Getting kids to eat healthy food is an age old struggle. They can be extremely picky and introducing new foods to their diet can be difficult. Our nutritionists came together to provide some tips on how you can encourage your children to eat a healthy, varied diet. Use these tips and your kids will be excited to eat brussels sprouts and lima beans in no time!*
With three children at home, I have lots of experience trying to get them to eat healthy. Meal times can really be a battle and for most Moms, the fewer the battles, the better. Thus, I always try to offer healthy foods that are both delicious and nutritious. Think veggies, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
And, if they tell me they don’t like it or don’t want to eat it, I just put the plate back in the fridge and wait until they ask for a snack or tell me they are hungry. Then, I offer up that plate again. The point is to continue to offer healthy foods and beverages. It sometimes takes several times of offering certain foods before kids will eat it. If everyone in the home eats healthy 90% of the time, it sets a good example for your little ones.
I don’t have any kids yet, but from my experience tutoring and babysitting I find that they love to snack on graham crackers, low-sugar fruit gummies, apples, carrots, and orange slices. At meals, I give them milk or water to drink and make sure they finish the majority of their meal, but never force them to finish all of it if they say they’re full. I like to keep the kids active when I babysit. Toddlers and preschoolers always love a good dance party. Older kids usually like to play with friends, so provide them with things that will facilitate group activity- jump ropes, balls, baseball gloves, and Frisbees (outside of course!).
I have a little boy at home and, from my experience, kids will eat almost anything if you put it in a quesadilla, so I use whole grain tortillas with some grilled chicken and low-fat cheese. I play the same trick on my husband! Check out TSOLC’s Kid-Friendly Pinterest board for great cooking tips and recipes that your children will enjoy.
I’ve found kids will eat more vegetables if they have something to dip them in, so try a small amount of salad dressing or hummus to encourage them to eat raw vegetables. Or make a light cheese sauce to drizzle on their cooked veggies. Those new pouches of pureed fruits and/or vegetables are also a great invention – they’re portable, no mess, and an easy way to get a serving of fruit or vegetables into their diet. Kids love to be at the center of activity so include them when making a meal, especially when introducing them to something new. Ease them into the idea of a new food by talking to them about where it came from and how you’re preparing it. They’ll be more likely to try a new food when they’re excited about it and have some ownership over the final dish. *Ok, we may be reaching a bit here….