Thursday, January 21, 2010
Helping Kids Adapt to Healthy Food
1- Get a fruit bowl- As simple as this sounds it can make a profound difference in what your child wants to eat. Our fruit bowl beautifully sitting in the middle of the counter in plain sight is, in my point of view, "mommy advertising". Children are greatly influenced by what they see on a regular basis and are exposed to. That is why the cereal, soda and fast food industries don't blink an eye when they spend millions or even billions on advertising to kids because they know it works! I teach a marketing class and believe me, without some type of advertising almost any product will become stagnant in the market. If a child sees a parent eating the fruit and can smell the fresh cut apple, even better! Expect to throw away some unloved fruit at first but keep trying eventually they will start to eat them!
2- Let time work- It is easy to give up after the first time of offering our kids fruits, veggies or fish if they strongly object to them but continue to give them to them and try different varieties of the same food. Your kids may not like raw carrots but they may like them with ranch, or cooked in stew or even carrot juice! I have found that my kids objected one night to a certain food then ate it a week later!
3-Cut them up- This sounds so simple but kids are much more likely to eat fruit or veggies in small portions and in thinner pieces. Veggies cut small make them much more appealing and easy to eat. As you probably have seen by now I like to make faces for my kids with cut fruit and veggies. I keep thinking that they will get tired of this but they never do. Two banana slices for eyes, raisins for pupils, a carrot nose and some type of mouth will go a long way. I can even get the neighbor kids to eat fruit and veggies this way. Make sure that the food is cut appropriate for the age of the child and is not a choking hazard.
4-Look for variety- So your kid won't eat canned peas or green beans, keep trying. It isn't a time to give up! Try fresh veggies and fruits and all types or even canned in a light syrup if they can't eat fresh. Never suppose your kids won't eat something before you try it. My husband is not a fan of tomatoes so I didn't think my kids would like cherry or grape tomatoes, They are actually a big hit. I was eating them one day and they wanted to try, now I have to grow them in the garden to try to keep up a summer supply! I also thought my kids would never like cauliflower. I put it out for dinner one night and now they request it. Don't be afraid to try different unconventional dips like A1 steak sauce, ketchup. I don't like the sugar or extra calories either but I feel like if it gets them to eat veggies than a little won't hurt as long as I am trying to reintroduce them without anything added.
5- Stop buying sugary snacks or hide them!- For some reason when you eat sugary or salty snacks you want more right? So do the kids. Not only that but your taste buds don't want anything else. If kids are eating fruit snacks first, they won't want the healthy snacks. Save the sugary and salty snacks for special occasions or not at all if you would like. If you have to have your own then hide them out of sight. Don't lie about them but keep them hidden so they don't act as a hunger trigger to what your kids want to eat!
6- Kick out the juice- Juice has a bad reputation lately and for good reason. Lots of the options out there are artificially sweetened and little of the drink is actually juice. Unless you make your own or pay attention to what is in it, water and milk are so much better for a growing child. Fruit juice can be made healthy a person just needs to be selective.
7- Find a grocery store that prides themselves in their produce- If we buy bad apples or bananas no one will eat them at home. Some grocery stores really do not care if their produce is poorly selected. I have a grocery store near where I live that has the best produce around (other than a farmers market which is wonderful too!) I have inquired why and discovered that the grocery manager really prides himself of the selection and quality of his produce. What a difference. Rarely do I see shriveled green peppers or bruised fruit.