I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to be a parent of a picky eater. By the age of 7, I gave my mother absolute hell over food. I stopped eating meat completely, refused to drink milk (since my sister was lactose intolerant and she didn’t drink it, I figured why should I?), and only ever finished plates full of spaghetti and meatballs. Here are a few tips I’ve heard from parents and bloggers for the past few years that might actually be helpful, from recipes to just general tips.
- Got a kid that doesn’t like leafy greens? Try sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are sweet, great mashed or roasted, and filled with all kinds of nutrients, from beta carotene to vitamin B6 to vitamin C. It is definitely a better alternative to other starches. If your kids are all about french fries, try sweet potato fries, baked in the oven with a little sea salt.
- Got a pasta lover? Instead of just serving your child spaghetti with plain tomato sauce, try pureeing spinach and tossing it in. If they don’t see the green, they won’t know it’s there! Depending on just how much you add, the taste should not be affected at all.
- Do your kids love sloppy joes, tacos, or meatballs? Switch to lean ground beef or lean ground turkey. The leaner is is, the healthier. Though some people prefer higher fat content, there are certainly ways to keep your meats juicy – and if they’re covered in sauce, they should still taste delicious.
- Encourage water at an early age. Juices are loaded with copious amounts of sugar and should be limited. A good way to do this is to either dilute the juice with water or alternate their drinks on some sort of schedule – orange juice with breakfast, water with lunch, milk with dinner or at bedtime. Make sure you’re purchasing 100% juice — juice “drinks” or juice “beverages” have lower amounts of pure fruit juice and are thus less healthy.
- Don’t bribe your kids with rewards for good eating. There shouldn’t be an incentive to eat apart from just being hungry.
- Set an example for them yourself. If you don’t eat your greens or your meat, you shouldn’t get any pudding either!
- Consult your doctor before putting your child on a vitamin regime. The best way to get nutrients is by eating them, but if you’re worried about your child’s health, it is certainly smart to take necessary precautions.
- Throw in some berries! If your kid love love loves yogurt, try to toss in a few blueberries or raspberries. The smaller the fruit, the greater the nutrients. Both are high in antioxidants
- Make breakfast a priority. Kids who go to school hungry lose concentration and momentum. Pick high fiber foods like oatmeal or whole grain english muffins. Pop-tarts, as delicious as they are, will not keep your child full for very long. Rolled oats are better than instant. Try to serve it with raisins, brown sugar, and/or honey. A delicious way to get the mind going.
-Kids have a sweet tooth? Remember portion controls. Try to vary popsicles and ice cream, but definitely reach for frozen yogurts over ice cream. Many frozen yogurt varieties taste just like ice cream and still contain those pro-biotics found in regular yogurt. I recommend StonyField Farm’s Fudge Swirl.
For specific recipes, I highly recommend The Sneaky Chef. I personally have a hard enough time getting my 5-a-day, and her recipes are super helpful – and tasty!
What do you do to convince your child to eat healthy?
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