Do you have picky eaters? Sometimes meal time is an enormous challenge for parents. Every child has a different palate, and it isn't easy when they detest healthy foods. Not every child is like my niece who at four-years-old proclaimed at the dinner table that steamed broccoli was her favorite food as she shoveled pieces in her mouth and asked for seconds on her broccoli and her salad--true story. No, some kids have a big aversion to eating vegetables and fruits. Part of the reason this happens is some foods may taste very strong on their developing palates. There also may be issues with texture as well. Here are some tips to increase your child’s interest in healthy foods.
1. Let your kids pick their favorite produce at the grocery store
While in the produce section, let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try. Kids are often more interested in trying new foods when they get to pick them out. Now, if you cringe at the thought of bringing your brood to the grocery store, you can also do this at home. Ask them to pick out their favorite fruit or vegetable or show images of new ones they may want to try and then purchase them when you go on a peaceful shopping trip by yourself. This can be a fun taste testing event to try new foods. Just start with buying one piece so if they don't like it you don't waste a basket full of star fruit.
2. Prepare meals together
Let your child be part of the preparation. Whether they mix something in a bowl or pour a sauce they will be happier to eat and try new foods when they have played a part in the cooking process.
3. Incorporate “fun foods”
Kids are drawn to foods that have different shapes, and bright colors. They don't make candy bright colors for no reason. There are many fruits that can fall into this category such as kiwi or berries. You can also be creative. Instead of handing your child a whole orange, break it up into pieces and make a smiley face on the plate. There is also the good old trick of making ants on a log with celery, peanut butter and raisins. There are so many fun ideas- it is amazing what simple creativity can do.
4. Make desserts healthy
You can still have dessert and make it healthy too. Try dipping fresh strawberries in chocolate sauce, a fruit smoothie, strawberry short cake, or a frozen fruit bar. These choices may have some sugar, but are also adding nutrients at the same time. Remember--everything is healthy in moderation.
5. Sneak in healthy foods
Sometimes we can sneak in a few sprigs of the green stuff in our mac and cheese or scrambled eggs. This is a good start, but if you have kids who can pick every last green part out, you may want to try some other avenues. One trick is to offer healthy foods that don't appear healthy. For instance, make some pumpkin dip and serve with fresh apple slices- the dip is sweet and wonderful with apples and kids won't view it as a "health food". You can also try some sweet potato fries or slice fresh strawberries on chocolate pudding.