Getting a child to eat can be one of parenting’s biggest challenges. You may, in fact, be one of those parents who wonders how your child even survives day to day on what he eats.
Maybe he’s on a kick where all he wants to eat is mac and cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Or, maybe she takes a few bites at every meal then declares she’s full.
Kids go through phases, especially when it comes to food and eating. Fortunately, they are also resilient and they will eat when they are hungry. A lot of those same kids are also stubborn and picky, making it important for you to take a proactive stance to get your child to eat healthy.
And who is the parent at meal times? So many parents allow and empower their children to be picky because they ask rather than just serving it out. Follow the ideas below and take control the situation and things will change.
Go shopping together
Turn grocery shopping into an adventure by taking your children along. Ask them what kind of healthy foods they would like. Asking for their input will help them feel as though their opinions are valued and will make them more excited for meal time.
Make mealtime a real family affair
Mealtime is one of the best times to catch up with everyone’s day and to set a good example for your children. Preparing for a meal can be just as important to influencing your children’s decisions as eating a healthy meal together.
Get your children involved in the kitchen by allowing them to help you prepare meals. Even just handing you ingredients as you cook can be a great way to teach your child the value of knowing how to cook.
Create a routine
Children generally thrive on routine in all areas of their lives and eating is no different. Create a schedule for meals and snacks and to stick to it – or stay as close as possible – every day, so your child knows what to expect. In addition, save the drinks for meals and snacks. A glass of milk or juice when your child is thirsty throughout the day will curb her appetite and make her less likely to eat at mealtime or snack time. Offer water, which keeps children hydrated and doesn’t fill them up.
Stick to one meal for everyone
Preparing a meal takes time and most parents have very little extra time in their days. Make one meal that everyone will eat rather than catering to a child who might not like what’s being served for dinner. Instead of letting your child run from the table while everyone is eating, request that she stay seated. She may start picking at the food and find she actually likes what she’s tried. Even if she doesn’t eat, she’s still in the routine of being at mealtime.
Add some flavour
Adults can be just as finicky as adults. Would you rather have plain broccoli or broccoli with melted cheddar cheese on top? Adding a little bit of flavour to an otherwise unappealing vegetable or food can encourage kids to eat. Instead of offering just carrots, set out a plate of carrots and a bowl of Ranch dressing for dip.
Alternately, find creative ways to add healthy foods to your kids’ diet. One great way to get your children to eat fruits is to blend them into a refreshing smoothie.
Monkey see, monkey do
Perhaps during your childhood you heard your parents utter that old cliché, “Do what I say, not what I do.” The fact is children imitate what they see. If they see you eating healthy foods, they are going to be more likely to eat healthy foods too. If you turn your nose up at peas, for example, and say you don’t like them, chances are your children are going to do the same thing. Even if you can’t stand peas and your mom made you sit at the dinner table until you ate them all as a child, fake that smile and be positive when eating your peas. Be a good role model when it comes to the foods you eat. With a very high % of our population overweight what chance do our kids have? When you change they will.
Don’t give up
Your children might not like mango, broccoli, or pasta the first time you give it to them. Children need time to get used to new tastes. If your child doesn’t like a particular food, don’t stop giving it to him. In fact, experts assert that a child who is given the same food between five to 10 times has a greater chance of learning to like it.
Get your kids excited about eating
Mealtime can be fun. You can get your kids excited about eating even when it’s not mealtime. Take them grocery shopping. Talk to them about the foods they like. And, get them excited about eating healthy foods, introducing them to Annie’s Rainbow, a magical rainbow with vibrant colours that match the vibrant colours of the foods that will keep your child healthy and happy.
Meta4kids is a world first collection of short stories for kids to eat healthy, deal with issues, build confidence and tolerance. Check them out at www.meta4kids.com.au