As parents we have all faced that difficult time when we are trying to get our child to eat healthy foods and they refuse. That broccoli just won’t go down no matter how long the child sits there. We know how important the right foods can be to their growing little bodies, but getting them to eat these foods is another matter. Here are some tips to get your child to eat the right foods.
– One of the best ways in getting your child to eat healthy is to start young. Introduce them to all the types of vegetables available when they are babies, and not just the sweet ones. If they become accustomed to eating the right foods at an early age, they are more likely to continue to eat them later on.
– Lead by example. Children love to mimic their parents and will watch what you eat. Are you pushing that broccoli to the side of your own plate? Are you eating the greens that you are forcing them to eat? Be a model for your child to emulate.
– Make food fun. Every parent knows the ‘airplane’ trick with the spoon, but there are other ways to make children eat food that is fun. Display it in fun ways on their plates. Make a face on the plate using vegetables and tell them to eat the nose which may be a cherry tomato. Use bright colored foods and cut them into various shapes. Radishes and cucumbers can be cut into flowers. Carrots and celery can be cut into thin strings. Make pancakes with smiley faces on them.
– Get the kids involved in the food preparation. If they help to prepare the food, they are more likely to eat it. Even very young children can help, even if it is just arranging the food on their plate. Encourage them to make a happy face of vegetables for Dad. They will be proud of what they can do, and if you make it fun for them it can help you in dealing with kitchen chores when they are older.
– Teach your children the value of foods, and what the ingredients are in the foods that they eat. Show them the healthy ones and discuss why others may be bad for them. If they are shown the right foods to eat in the beginning, chances are they will be able to make more meaningful choices for themselves later.
– Combine their treats with healthy foods. If they must have chips, why not serve it with a mild salsa which contains many healthy vegetables. If they want cake, why not serve them carrot cake or a zucchini bread? If they don’t like to eat meat or fruit, how about a tofu banana or strawberry milkshake?
– Use cheese, dips or sauces to mask certain flavors that children tend to dislike. They may be more apt to eat the cauliflower when it is covered with cheese. They may like raw vegetables served with a creamy dip. Sauces can contain healthy ingredients that may make certain dishes more appealing to children. A healthy meat dish served with a tomato sauce may eliminate the need for other vegetables at that meal.
– Encourage children to take at least one bite of anything that is served. Even if they don’t like that particular thing they may discover that they like another that you may not have considered but is equal in nutritional value.
– Let your child have one thing that they positively don’t like and don’t have to eat. Everyone dislikes something, whether it be brussel sprouts or asparagus. It will give the children a feeling of having some control over what they eat, and they may be more inclined to eat the rest. Children want to have choices too, and to have some control over their own lives. Let them choose vegetables and healthy foods that they do like and there are sure to be at least a few and serve them often.
– Remember what is in your own cupboard. Make healthy snacks available to your children and don’t just stock your pantry with junk food. Send healthy snacks like fruits, raisins and carrot sticks in your child’s lunch box instead of chips and chocolate bars.
Those are just a few tips that may get your child to eat healthier. Remember to be tolerant but firm. Their growing little bodies need the vitamins and nutrients to help them grow, and it is our job as parents to make sure that our children get them.