If you are frustrated that your child only wants to eat the same 5 things: chicken nuggets & fries; pizza; mac n’ cheese; grilled cheese & fries or hamburger & fries?? The following tips will not only help your child to eat better, but will help the entire family!
A. Get Them Involved!
1. Get them in the kitchen with you! When your kids are little, let them help you in the kitchen. Buy them an apron and a knife you feel would be appropriate for them to use when they are old enough to use it. Show them how to cut vegetables…if not on weekdays, perhaps on a weekend. If you don’t know how to cook, have a friend who knows and perhaps arrange a cooking class for the kids in the neighborhood.
2. Have a theme one night a week: Whether it is Meatless Mondays or a country like Japan, Italy, Greece or India and look up what are their traditional dishes. Whether its vegetable egg rolls, sushi (not with raw fish but with veggies or cooked fish such as shrimp or salmon), fried noodles with veggies or fried rice. Get them involved!
3. Go to the grocery store:i Check out a vegetable they have never tried before. Find a recipe and make it for dinner. Get them involved. The more they help, the more they will eat it!!
4. Watch cooking shows that feature kids: The winner of this past Master Chef Junior was 9!! She was amazing!! The Chopped Junior series on the Food Network . It will show them that kids can cook.
5. Get herbs: Do a project together like growing herbs such as basil, rosemary, dill, cilantro or thyme in a little pot on your window sill. If that is too much, buy them and let your kids smell, taste and cut them up to add to a dish.
B. School Lunches:
1. If you get them involved in the lunch making process…they will eat it!
2. Let them pick out a thermos or lunch box or freezer bag, so they will like to carry with them to school. There are so many varieties that are cute and fun to use.
3. Leftovers: When you are making dinner, think about making extra for school lunches the next day. You can add extra veggies to a soup or pasta dish to bolster the nutrition.
4. Be creative. You can make hummus wraps and add veggies; bean & rice burritos with salsa and guacamole, Asian noodle salad, or if you get adventurous, veggie sushi rolls. Since it is cold right now, make chili where you can add beans for great fiber and protein. Instead of potato chips…you could have veggie, sweet potato or kale chips. Instead of apple juice, pack an apple. If you do have apple juice, dilute it because there is too much sugar.
5. Use almond butter instead of peanut butter. With so many peanut allergies, I would use almond butter instead of peanut butter. Take note that if your child is getting nose bleeds, it can be too much nut butters. Oil floats to the front and up in the body and can cause nose bleeds. If this is happening, just stop the nut butters for awhile.
6. Read Labels!! Have your kids write the ingredients down from their favorite snack food and see if they understand what it is made from! The following food dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 can trigger hyperactivity in children and might contain cancer-causing contaminants! So avoid foods that contain these ingredients
C. What to Order when eating out!
1. DO NOT order from the kids’ menu!! They have the same 5 foods on it!! Order a healthier adult meal and split it among your children. If you only have one child, take the rest home for their lunch the next day.
2.DO NOT order Soda or flavored milks with the meal: Kids will drink these drinks before their meal arrives and will fill them up. No one needs soda. A 12 ounce soda contains 10 tsp. of sugar. The energy drinks or athletic drinks now contain High Fructose Corn Syrup! You need to read labels! Water is fine is great.
3. Pick healthier restaurants: There are healthier restaurants. These are Fast Casual Restaurants now, which are better choices than fast food restaurants.
D. Healthy Eating Habits…and this is for everyone!!
1. DO NOT Eat while doing other things! It’s meal time!! NO PHONES, IPADS, books, newspaper and tv!!! When you eat while doing other things, it becomes mechanical eating and you will overeat and not be satisfied with your meals!!!
2. Eat at the table…dinner time!! Dinner time is a special time when a family will come together and is usually the best time for your kids to share. Do not eat in front of the tv or in your bedroom or in the living room. Eat at the dinner table.
3. Plan Your Meals…if they have a soccer game…bring something homemade for them to eat…stop the car…find a picnic table if it is warm out and eat your meal…enjoy it!
4. Eat at Regular Times…Breakfast, lunch and dinner…try to make them the same time every day… your babies were on a schedule…we should be also! Having a schedule will regulate your blood sugar, hormones and bowels. It is SO important!
5. No drinks with meals:i Alcohol beverages are fine to drink with your meal because it helps with digestion, but other drinks will promote you from chewing your food well. Often times it washes your food down. Drinks also dilute your digestive juices and makes it harder for your body to digest the food.
If you don’t start helping your kids figure out how to eat healthier now…then when? How will they know what or how to eat. You are their biggest example. Make this a family project, and do it together. You will be more successful. Start doing some of these things and soon they will be habits.