This week we are back with another fantastic guest post from one of our favorite guest writers, Kevin Wells of Senior Diabetic. Raising a child who is a picky eater can be challenging especially when it comes to creating a healthy eating lifestyle in your home as well as minimize the prep time required by cooking one meal option for the whole family. In this post Kevin discusses some great tips to help incorporate healthy eating into the lifestyle of your child (or adult child) who is a picky eater.
For many parents, finding a way to get little ones to eat healthy can be a daily challenge. Even the kids who aren’t picky sometimes have trouble getting all the nutrients they need from their food, making it necessary to supplement with chewable vitamins. It’s important to help your child discover a love of healthy foods at a young age, as this can help them form better habits as they grow older and can keep them strong as their bodies change and mature.
But how do you start? One of the easiest ways to help kids love healthy foods is to simply expose them to lots of different choices very early on. Give them a rainbow of options on their plate at each meal, and encourage them to try new things often. Because raw veggies are often not appealing to little ones, you might serve dip or hummus with them. For very young kids, you can also make mealtimes fun by arranging the foods in a creative way on the plate or encouraging your child to do so on his own.
Keep reading for some great tips on how to help your little ones eat healthy.
Start a garden
One great way to help your kids learn to love veggies is to grow a garden and allow them to be involved. Working outside and taking care of living plants can help kids learn responsibility and will help them understand the importance of healthy eating, especially if you have a conversation about what role vegetables play in keeping our bodies in good shape. If you don’t have a lot of backyard space, don’t fret; there are lots of ways you can create a beautiful garden in front of your home without making the veggies obvious. Try planting rainbow chard, kale, eggplant, and peppers, all of which have lovely blooms that will fascinate your little ones.
Just about every child likes to be creative; hand him a crayon and a piece of paper, and he’ll likely draw immediately, even at a very young age. Food can be inspiring, too, and if you encourage your child to have fun with it, he may be more inclined to try new things. Try arranging his meal on the plate in a creative way; broccoli trees and radish flowers, cheese stars, and fish-shaped sandwiches are fun and easy to make, especially with the help of cookie cutters. You can also use different plates and utensils to help your little one get into it.
Get them involved
Many kids love to get creative in the kitchen; it makes them feel useful and grown-up, and it’s a great way to bond with your little ones. Allowing them to get involved when it’s time to make dinner might make the process a little longer (and messier), but it’s well worth it if it will help them see the importance of the foods we eat and how they keep us healthy. Look up kid-friendly recipes by age range, make sure they only work with cooking utensils designed for children, and always keep safety in mind in the kitchen.
Be a role model
One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re trying to get your kids to eat healthy is to be a good role model. That means showing them that you appreciate your veggies and filling your plate with them at mealtimes. You can also start a conversation about healthy eating and what that means, including the difference between healthful choices and “dieting,” especially when it comes to kids who are middle school and high school age. This is a time when many kids start to become body-conscious and receive conflicting messages about their appearance.
Helping your child discover a love of veggies can be a long process, so try to be patient as you and your kids navigate it together. Some kids may try several new foods before finding one or two they like, so keep offering a variety of healthy items; their tastes may change over time.
I hope you enjoyed these tips from our guest blogger and would love to hear your feedback or any other tips you have found successful in adding variety into the healthy eating lifestyle of your picky eater!
Wishing you a week of health and wellness,
–Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN
Denver’s Dancing Dietitian
A Taste of Health, LLC
“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”
Photo via Pixabay by Studioessen