Updated: Mar 28, 2021
👩👧👦Children's 🥦Nutrition👨🍳 Tips: How to spread healthy, even to the picky eaters; 🕵️♀️ - it's so hard to want to 💪empower your children's drive for independence when you are trying to "break" them of a poor habit. However, empowering 💪 your child is exactly the key to your success in preventing the mealtime battles and creating the change necessary for long term lasting healthy habits!!!!
TIP 3️: Be Creative-
✅ AKA -Disguise healthy items - Add chopped broccoli or green peppers to spaghetti sauce, top cereal with fruit slices, use the food processor to make veggies very small to put them in anything possible (without being detected) or mix grated zucchini and carrots into casseroles and soups, spinach in smoothies, zucchini chocolate chip bread, broccoli gingerbread spice cake, and chickpea chocolate chip cookies, etc. (This is where I would love others to comment below, with ideas that have worked for them). I personally use pureed chickpeas as part of my new breading base for anything for the kids to add additional protein to seemingly less healthy food. Cauliflower in place of many starches to get in more veggies. Smoothies with added protein and veggies and fruit of course. Spaghetti squash or spiraled veggies as pasta substitute. Our daughter now makes it her mission to detect and identify in what way I have tried to sneak healthy items in her favorite dishes.
✅ Positivity before, during, and after - Keep the veggie talk positive. Stop saying things like you have to eat this healthy item before you can have "x" or before you can do "y", this shows them they have to tolerate the healthy item instead of it being enjoyable. So instead get creative, make healthy items fun. Also the above talk about disguising items is not meant for you to lie to the kiddos, its mean to make it so the healthy item is less noticeable, so the child is willing to try the item, instead of being put off by the idea they don't like that item or getting worked up they aren't going to like it before even tasting it. I make it a game with my kids I ask them to see if they can find the items that are good for them in the meal or snack or ask them to tell me what part of that meal/snack is fueling their body and making it grow up healthy and strong. During the meal/snack sing or talk during eating the items they typically don't enjoy to make a positive experience during something seemingly negative. Studies show those children that were praised for eating the healthy items were more likely liking in the long run to choose healthy items on their own free will even when not encouraged to do so. So keep it positive.
✅ Making things homemade (another tip will go into this in more detail and getting the kids to help with certain aspects of preparing these items also gets them engaged) - Clearly there are tons of benefits to this tip but the biggest one is being able to get (hide) more healthy items in kid friendly items (chicken nuggets, quesadillas, smoothies, onion rings, "Tatar" tots, etc). Mold or cut food items into fun shapes.
✅ Make it fun - Serve veggies and fruit with a favorite dip or sauce (yogurt, cheese, salad dressings, etc). Cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters. Offer breakfast foods for dinner. Serve a variety of brightly colored foods. Encourage them try to eat something from each color group each day and let them tract that on their food log as well. Getting the kids interested or excited about something healthy again, creates a positive relationship with food. Engage them either ask them why they picked the certain dips, sauces, shapes or colors. Again encouraging them to start with small portions (even if they are excited) and then allow them to add more as needed as discussed in Tip #2. The goal is to empower them to make the right choices for themselves. Do not pressure them as discussed in Tip #2 also.
✅ Again, set goals and make them clear - After each meal reinforce the healthy habits, encourage them to review what they consumed and discuss how these items might help them (grow, dance, play sports, whatever their goals are). Ask your child if they think they are giving their body the FUEL it needs to work correctly and make it so they can run and play (or whatever is age appropriate). Empower them to set a goal to better fuel their body tomorrow and what are some things they can do to reach that goal. To keep this fun, allow them to come up with one thing they think YOU (the caregiver) could do to improve your healthy habits tomorrow. Again the idea of leading by example and letting them feel in control and that their opinion matters.
Stay tuned for the next health tip # 4️: Be patient with new foods. Patience is a virtue, we are still working on in my house. If you miss it on my timeline, search the hashtags below posted by me and you should be able to find it.
I share these tips not because I'm perfect or because I have it all figured out, but because I too struggle as a parent getting my children to eat healthy and thought it might help others to hear what we found helped us. Perhaps by sharing my findings, someone else won't have to struggle through as much as we did. I also share to provide hope that it is possible, you can get even the picky eaters to eat healthy!
In the meantime, remember that your child's eating habits won't likely change overnight — but the small steps you take each day can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating. To truly acknowledge how hard it is to want to 💪empower your children's drive for independence when you are trying to "break" them of a poor habit. However, empowering 💪 your child is exactly the key to your success in preventing the mealtime battles and creating the change necessary for long term lasting healthy habits!!!! Remember these kids will be the leaders of tomorrow. Thank you again for your support!!! #ChildrensNutrition #ParentingTips #HealthyEatingForKids #HealthyWarner