How to Encourage Your Picky Children to Eat Healthy Food
If you are dealing with an adult that does not want to eat the right foods for a healthy diet, you are probably fighting a losing battle. But picky eating in kids is something you can fix, if you employ some sneaky and intelligent tips. Begin using the following strategies for getting your picky eater to eat healthy foods, and your fussy eater may just learn to love nutritious meals.
So your kid doesn’t like chicken. What if you allowed him to help you make chicken kabobs with his favorite veggies and fruits? Tell him he can help you cook them over a charcoal or gas grill, and his ideas about chicken may change. If your child loves to hate tomatoes, try tomato soup or a tomato added to a blended or juiced beverage or smoothie. Put your thinking cap on and come up with creative ways to present healthy foods in a different light.
Do not just assume that your child will “grow out of” an unhealthy, picky eating phase. Start at a very young age introducing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and meats into your child’s diet. Incorporate a wide range of textures and flavors, as well as healthy drinks and beverages which taste and look different.
Changing the picky eating habits of a 2 year old might be difficult, but it improves that child’s health if you do it now, rather than waiting until he is older. Besides, years of supporting fussy eating habits do not make them any easier to break.
Use An Older Sibling As a Role Model
Little boys and girls look up to their older brothers and sisters. Use this hero worship to your advantage. Get an older brother or sister to eat the mysterious, unfamiliar, “gross” food with your picky eater. Have the older child explain the “grow up and be big and strong like me” benefits of the food in question, and acceptance may come sooner than later.
Begin With Small Pieces
Your child is going to have to eat a single pea before he eats a single serving. Start small. A huge portion of an unfamiliar and possibly intimidating food can virtually guarantee your child will not even try it. Begin with pieces of food that are so small they make very little taste and texture impact. Tell them that is all you need them to try, and then follow up with our next picky eater tip when they do.
Any time your child gives in and eats a new food, however small the portion, reward that behavior. If your child bravely eats a small piece of cheese and that is a landmark occasion, deliver a favorite food of hers as a reward.
Stay the Course
Don’t give up. Children often have to try a new food numerous times before they begin to like it. Be persistent, and that magical day will come when your child starts liking the foods you have so diligently had him try.
How to Teach Kids About Fruits and Vegetables
Your child is plugged into the electronic world in a big way. While this can definitely be a negative, leading to a sedentary lifestyle, it can also help teach your child about the benefits of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy lifestyle. You can alternately go “old-school” and introduce your child to fruits and veggies as part of a hands-on learning process. Both of those methods are recommended. Here’s why.
Kids love getting outdoors. But they also enjoy consuming video and audio on smartphones, tablets, MP3 players and computers. So when you employ both of these methods in an effort to get your child fired up about vegetables and fruits, you stand a better chance of success.
Get Your Child Out Into a Physical Garden
If you don’t grow your own produce, find someone that does. Local farmers, community gardening clubs and perhaps even your own neighbors will usually be happy to give you and your child a hands-on experience and education about growing fruits and vegetables. The entire seed-to-harvest process can be shown, touched, smelled and even tasted. Promote encouragement by telling your children that this is the acceptable way for them to get dirty.
If you do not have access to a fruits and vegetables garden, head to the supermarket. Schedule a “Supermarket Fun Day” to promote eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Make a game of finding 5 different vegetables and fruits in each of the 5 main color groups. Let your child see, touch and smell the many different types of produce, and tell them the health benefits of each one. (This exercise will help make you smarter about why you should be eating veggies and fruits as well.)
There’s an App For That
Nothing can beat real world examples which involve all 5 senses for teaching any kind of lesson. But your child is a technologically-inclined human being. Why not cater to this inclination? The list of applications and games which teach the nutritional benefits and the growing process of fruits and vegetables is nearly endless. Here are a few to consider:
Nicolas’ Garden (actually designed by an 8 year old)
The Prisoner of Carrot Castle
Fruits and Vegetables for Kids
These games and applications are free and available for most mobile operating systems. They make learning about vegetables and fruits a game that your kids want to play all the time.
Just remember to start young. Children develop their unique personality between the ages of 1 and 4. They are absorbing everything, even when you do not realize it. So start the fruits and vegetables education early for a lifetime of healthy nutrition.