Right now in our house we’re going through a bit of an issue when it comes to the foods our toddler will and will absolutely not eat under any circumstances. Even iPad bribes aren’t working. On the short list of acceptable foods: bread products of any type, cheese, veggie burgers – but only one particular brand – and raspberries. And while I’ve certainly seen friends facing much more dire food problem with their young children (like my girlfriend who thought there was a good chance her daughter was going to turn transparent since she only ate food that was white), mealtime stress is something we all want to avoid. So this week we turn to Karin Reiter of Nutritious N’ Delicious to get some simple tips on how we can make mealtimes a bit healthier.
As a mother of two, one of my biggest pleasures in life is feeding my kids nutritious meals. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy! Kids have minds of their own and not always are they interested in steamed vegetables and quinoa…
So for all you romantically nutritious mommies out there, here are some good tips and ideas of how make your family meals healthier.
Show your kids an example
Your kids notice everything, especially if you skip the veggies at dinner. You can’t expect your kids to eat what you don’t want to eat yourself. Choose whole wheat bread over white, eat fruit for dessert, and snack on sliced vegetables instead of fatty, processed biscuits or chips. Be positive about trying new healthy foods. Don’t forget to get dad to jump on board, healthy kids are a team effort.
Eat more home made foods
Fast food and restaurant meals are loaded with hidden salt, sugar and fat (the bad kind of fat). When you cook at home, you control the ingredients that your children put into their bodies and can choose the quality of your food.
Have your kids participate in the meal preparation
Kids are very proud of their accomplishments, so if they’ve helped make the dinner, they are more likely to eat it. Try making mini pizzas with veggies, face shaped meals, healthy muffins and fruit salads…
Incorporate fruits and veggies into everything- even treats
Smoothies are a great way to get kids to drink fruit and vegetables. A handful of spinach or kale is hardly detectable in a fruit smoothie. Use strawberries and beets to create a pink colour. Use bananas or dates to sweeten it up. You can grate onions, garlic carrots and zucchini into tomato sauce and use it for pasta’s and stews. Soups are another great way to get vegetables into their little tummies. Sweet potato, carrot and pumpkin is a favourite of most kids.
Go grocery shopping together
Teach your kids why you choose specific foods and why they are good for them.
Eat together as a family
Turn off the TV, ipad, iphone, blackberry, radio and whatever takes your attention away. Talk to your kids, ask them how their day was. Kids who regularly eat family meals perform better academically and have better overall nutrition.
Don’t give up
Disliking a new food is normal. It can take at least 12 tries before a child will accept a new food. Try offering one new food at a time, serving something your child likes along with the new food, and introducing new foods at the beginning of a meal when your child is very hungry. Avoid lecturing or forcing your child to eat.
Don’t use food as a reward for good behaviour
Kiss, hug, read a book and play a game as a reward.