How to Get Your Kids to Say Yes to Veggies: Five Healthy Eating Tips
Whether your child has always been picky, or has recently developed an aversion to certain healthy food choices they previously enjoyed, feeding these kids can be challenging for any parent. The CDC recently reported that 1 in 3 or approximately 34% of children and adolescents ages 2-19 eat fast food on a given day. This simply doesn’t provide their bodies with the nutrition needed to develop properly. So what’s a parent to do? Stick around and we will show you some healthy eating tricks to get your kids to say yes to veggies and more!
Is My Child Really a Picky Eater?
It is important that parents find out if their child really is a picky eater? To find out write down the foods that he/she will actually eat. If the number of foods is less than 20, contact your pediatrician for nutritional guidance and a potential referral to a dietician or feeding program.
Why is My Child a Picky Eater?
First let’s start with the reason many kids are picky eaters. The reasons for “selective” eating are as varied as children’s personalities. Sometimes the reason is school. This is not to pick on school lunches. Poor food choices can be found in the daycare setting too. Children become accustomed to eating this type of food and then begin rejecting other types of food. Other times the child wants to have some control in their lives and realize at a young age that they can control what they put in their body. Perhaps they have a sensory problem and many food textures both him. Regardless the reason, it must be overcome.
Tip #1: Think Baby Steps
In order to get your child to wrap their head around trying new things you should start small. Offer them one pea rather than a plateful. The goal is to have them try new foods. A small bite of something new achieves this. Then they can move on. Ensure their plate has at least one item they like.
Tip #2: Stay Strong
For a child to accept a new food or flavor it can take up to 15 tries, but keep at it! By exposing them to a variety of foods now, you help them accept more foods later.
Tip #3: Stick to a Schedule
Children like routines and an eating schedule or routine is no different. Snacking or drinking close to mealtime fills their tummies and can make it harder to get the new food acceptance you desire. Instead, stick to feeding them three solid meals and three scheduled snacks each day. Don’t give in when they are begging for food just before mealtime. Drinking a big glass of chocolate milk right before dinner can also fill them up, so say no. If they are thirsty, offer them a small glass of water to tie them over.
Tip #4: Stock the Right Foods
If you want your child to eat well, stock your pantry and fridge with healthy food choices. A few treat-like snack items are fine but make sure the healthier choices outweigh the unhealthy items. Create a bin in the pantry and refrigerator that is loaded with snack items you would be happy for them to eat. For example, all natural fruit snacks, applesauce, granola bars, cereal bars are great for the pantry. In the refrigerator you could have cheese sticks, yogurt and prepared grapes.
Tip #5: Include the Kids in the Planning
Kids are more apt to eat what you prepare, especially when they are looking for some control, when they are part of the menu planning process. Let them choose dinner one night a week. Ask them to help with some aspect of the meal preparation and be sure to include at least one favorite at each meal.
Raising a picky eater comes with its challenges but parents really can help their child overcome with persistence and variety. If you are concerned about your child’s diet or whether or not they are eating enough, contact your pediatrician for an appointment today.