Are Your Kids Picky Eaters?
February 21, 2018
Do you have picky eaters in your family?!
Hey y’all! It’s Wednesday and this week we have some good tips on picky eaters and how to incorporate more healthy food options into your kid’s diets! (As well as your own if you are a grown-up picky eater! Don’t worry, no judgement here!)
First and foremost, we want to offer kids as many fresh fruits & vegetables throughout the day as possible. We know processed foods and snacks may contain them (even some that are “organic/all natural/sugar free”,) but they are not the best options for our bodies. And yes, fruits have natural sugars, but they also contain many great micronutrients that your sugary processed food products do not.
Get away from foods with labels and choose foods that don’t have labels or ingredient lists because they ARE the ingredient itself. Peppers, Onions, Tomatoes, Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower, etc. We know that being on-the-go makes it harder to include some of these things we may mention. We get it. But honestly, is it that much faster to grab a pop-tart instead of a piece of fruit or a bag of carrots while walking out the door? At least the fruit/veg has other micronutrients that all of our bodies need!
But we hear you saying… “no, my kid just won’t eat veggies.” Trust us. Nobody loves broccoli on their first try. Research shows it can take kids anywhere from 7-15 times of trying a food before they begin to accept it and/or enjoy it! So don’t get discouraged when they don’t like something the first night you make it. Just keep offering different variations of veggies and fruits while still offering them some veggies they do enjoy! And even try different ways of cooking/preparing/seasoning the food. Keep snacks healthy as well, such as hummus or PB with raw veggies.
From preschool transitioning into elementary, kids will also need to adopt a more set eating schedule. They must get used to eating bigger meals with smaller snacks in between. They usually have a snack time during elementary school, but they do not have the option to graze on snacks like they did as younger children. Teaching them to listen to their bodies and eat enough to last them to the next meal/snack is key to keep them strong and healthy!
Try these tips to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your whole family’s diet:
1. Teach kids where their food comes from. Teach them about farming, gardening, show them the fresh produce sections of the grocery store. Even grow a small garden this year if you are able! Porch gardens are a real thing!
2. Talk to them about all the different nutrients in foods and how they work in the body to make them grow up to be big and strong like mom and dad!
3. Let kids help with prepping, cooking, and serving your family’s food! When they are helping, they are more interested in eating the finished product! Always make it fun! We know a lot of you are busy and trying to get dinner finished ASAP but your kids aren’t young forever, and if they don’t learn these valuable things now like cooking a nutrient-dense dinner, when will they?!
4. Have 1 piece of fruit every morning with breakfast! Breakfast should contain protein or some whole-grain options. Prepare breakfast for your kids/family every morning or as least as many mornings as you can! Don’t grab the processed junk here just for convenience! Incorporate veggies even into their breakfast! Raw veggies are a good option for this! If they don’t like something, they can pick it out but at least they will be getting exposure to these foods! For example, try onions and peppers in their scrambled eggs!
5. Encourage kids to use their own utensils and even allow them to cut their own food with a butter knife if their age allows it! A small empowering move but it could make all the difference to them in their eating habits!
A good rule of thumb or method to use when trying to incorporate more concrete rules for better eating habits in your home:
-Parents are in charge of what food and when its offered.
Give them MANY options to choose from! The more options that are available to them, the more they will eat and enjoy these foods!
Stay in charge of what is offered and let the child be in charge of how much they eat. (The child is not the boss here nor do they have the knowledge or capabilities of making their own nutritious foods choices without the help of YOU, the parent!)
-Children are in charge of how much they eat of the food choices you’ve offered.
If they do not want to eat what is offered, they still must sit at the table with the family. More times than not, kids will begin eating after a period of time of watching everyone else.
Do not give into kids by allowing them to eat less healthy options just for the sake of “eating something”. They will not starve to death by missing a dinner or two. But a habit of eating plain pasta noodles every night is harder to break and also makes it harder to reincorporate healthier food options later like our lean meats, fruits, and veggies.
***Choking hazards*** Be mindful of what foods may be considered a choking hazard to your child depending on their age.
If you have questions about including more fruits and veggies into your family’s diet reach out to us! Also, if you all have any great ideas on how you have included more veggies and fruits into your family’s diets, let us know! Your tricks might also help the next person to help their family become less picky and get in those veggies! We can’t hate them forever y’all!
Have a great Wednesday! Be on the lookout for our upcoming new program, R2R Nutrition!