4 -: How to get your children to eat 'Yucky but Healthy' food
If there is one thing moms have in common with each other, it's their 'My kids Are Picky Eaters Club.' How often do you see a mother who is content and happy about how her child eats? Exactly!
Ways to eat healthy are never written on stone. You can always play around and figure out what suits your child best. Trying out new ideas however, is always a win-win situation. So first off, ditch the 'Picky' in your vocabulary (and all its synonyms too!) and see the magic. Children are prone to doing and becoming what you portray them as.
Here are some easy and fun ways (some new, some old) to make your children eat healthy but yucky food they normally avoid.
1. Treat it as a BAD FOOD-PHASE. It's not permanent.
If your child does not eat something, he or she is not going to feel the same forever. Tastes and habits change. Permanently marking off your kid as a fussy eater is never the solution.
Here comes golden advice from author Karen Le Billon in her much-favored book 'French Kids Eat Everything'. Healthy eating with a diverse taste palate is something that you can teach your children in their early years. "You don’t treat fear of foods as a personality trait, you treat it as a phase”, says Karen Le Billon. If they resist, don't label them as 'picky' or 'fussy'. Stay patient and KEEP TRYING. They will come around eventually; even if it’s to go away into another broccoli-whining spree.
2. Make healthy duplicates of food kids love.
Hide. Camouflage. Deceive. These sound like instructions given to a trained spy. Well, spies AND moms. The day you discover how amazing a brownie tastes with zucchini in it is a memorable one! That's also why smoothies steal the show. Children tend to gulp down these creamy, sweet beverages without caring or knowing what they are drinking. Other hot favorites to squeeze in healthy ingredients are casseroles, burritos, burger patties, pasta sauces and soups. These are all perfect for HIDING food children would usually write off as yucky.
As they say - It's not called lying. It's just called NOT telling.
3 -: How to get your children to eat 'Yucky but Healthy' food
3. Don't pipe the health benefits. Tell them how GOOD it TASTES.
Be firm in your beliefs about the food kids should or should not eat. But let's agree on one thing here. Children don't take too nicely to the word 'healthy' and all things related. We can be strict when it comes to using better food options, but we don't always have to drone on about why the food is good for them. So instead of always explaining the health benefits, try using enticing words and expressions to explain the taste.
Simply put, tell them how GOOD the food TASTES.
4. Too many cooks don't always spoil the broth if they happen to be kids.
There is something nerve-wracking about kids in the kitchen. But it doesn't have to be if you make it an exciting activity for your little kitchen helpers. You can start by giving them new and healthy (but don't tell them that!) recipes to choose from. Even if they keep picking cakes and cookies, you can still put that to your advantage by adding the hidden special ingredients like oats, almonds and vegetables! You can get them to come up with new recipes, especially if they love smoothies or even salads.
And remember to stress on the word 'MAGIC' when you're adding those secret ingredients. They will be intrigued!
5. Eat healthy yourself. Kids DO notice.
This one goes without saying. But it still needs to be said! Eat healthy yourself first. When you are careful about what you put in your mouth all the time, your children are bound to notice and follow you. Even if they don't, at least you won't catch them saying, "But mom you also had a cookie before dinner time that day!" It's always good to work towards a healthy lifestyle that includes the entire family.
2 -: How to get your children to eat 'Yucky but Healthy' food
6. Beware: Snacks can be tricky.
We thrive on snacks. Munching away during off hours of the day, in between meals is fun. Nutritionists also pipe the numerous benefits of healthy snacking. With children it gets a bit tricky. You can't always get them to eat salad, fruit or whole-grain crackers as snacks. They love snacks mostly because of their tempting options; cookies, popcorn, crisps! So instead of overdoing on the snack front, it's better to cut back. If a child is particularly fussy during lunch and dinner, skip the snacks altogether and see if it helps.
7. Sometimes looks DO matter.
It's not only customers at a 5-star restaurant who expect exceptional plating skills. It's children too. Dip your hands into the fun side of serving food to the kids. Use colorful plates and cups of their favorite cartoon characters. You could have a day assigned to one character and use cutlery accordingly. Or add a bit of sparkle to meals, especially breakfast and desserts, by using rainbow colored sprinkles. Use cookie cutters to cut up food into shapes.
It's all as easy as making a smiley face on whole-wheat pancakes with blueberries or arranging vegetables on a pizza to make a fun shape.
1 -: How to get your children to eat 'Yucky but Healthy' food
8. Give them options that only you control.
Grocery shopping with children can be crazy at times; kids running down aisles and picking up every variety of junk food on the planet. But if you do it a bit more smartly, it can be fun as well as a great health booster. Farmers markets are great places to shop for fresh produce. Exciting farm activities like tractor rides and petting the animals add to the experience. End the trip by asking your kids to choose from the fresh fruits and vegetable stalls.
Even in regular grocery stores, act adventurous once in a while. A repetitive menu can be boring. Choose new ingredients with your children to liven up lunch or dinner time.
9. Be stern, but respect their independence.
It's important to draw the line somewhere. We should be concerned about our child's eating habits. But at the same time we need to treat them as independent individuals with certain preferences and opinions. Try to work around them.
This is all connected really. Knowing when to push and when to hold back on the dining table is important. If a child completely refuses to eat all the vegetables at lunch, tell him he has to eat at least one.
10. Same meal for the whole family.
It's easy to be tempted to make a separate dish for kids when they refuse to eat anything on the table. This is a big no. Children make this a habit and expect their whining to work each time. They should eat what everyone else in the family eats.
Stick to what's on the menu. Let them know there are no alternatives. They will have to take a bite, sooner or later.
Written by: Nida Shahzeb