Children often are picky eaters and they are going through a normal developmental stage. Just as it takes numerous repetitions for advertising to convince an adult consumer to buy, it takes most children 8-10 presentations of a new food before they will openly accept it and hopefully enjoy it.
Instead of insisting that your child eat a new food, try offer a new food only when your child is hungry and limit snacks throughout the day. Present only one new food at a time and make it fun by cutting the food into unusual shapes or create a food collage using broccoli florets for trees, cauliflower for clouds and yellow squash for a sun. Have your child help prepare meals and serve new foods with their favourite foods to increase acceptance.
Kids do not always want what is healthy for them, especially fruit and vegetables, but there are ways to make them more enticing. By limiting access to unhealthy sweets and salty snacks it is much easier to convince your child that an apple with peanut butter is a treat if there are no cookies available.
It can be fun for kids to see all the different kinds of fruits and veggies available, let them pick out the new ones as well as some of their old favourites. Sneak vegetables into their foods, add grated or shredded veggies to stews and sauces to make them blend in, add grated or shredded veggies to stews or make cauliflower “mac” cheese or bake some zucchini bread or carrot muffins.
Keep fresh fruit and veggie snacks on hand, make sure they are already washed and cut, add yogurt, nut butter or hummus for extra protein.
It is very important for kids to enjoy breakfast every day, it helps their memory, energy and stable moods, which helps them during school. For children that are over-weight, by introducing quality protein, enriched cereal, milk, yoghurt, eggs, meat, fish or cheese can even help them lose weight.
In our busy lives today, breakfast can be time consuming, by boiling some eggs at the beginning of the week and offer them to your kids along with a low-sugar, high-protein cereal and an apply to go makes life a bit easier. Making breakfast burritos filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, chicken or beef can be make and frozen. For those dreaded late mornings, an egg sandwich, a pot of yoghurt or cottage cheese or peanut butter on wholegrain toast can all be eaten on the way to school.
Try avoid foods that impair your child’s mood:
- Processed foods, such as fried food, sweet desserts, sugary snacks, refined flour and cereals can increase the risk for anxiety and depression in kids.
- Avoid soda or sweetened fruit drinks.
- Caffeine and energy drinks can also trigger anxiety in kids.
And last, but not least, encourage exercise as the benefits are abundant and regular exercise can even help motivate your kids to make healthy food choices.