Everyone says kids are picky eaters and sometimes that is true. Since my children were born, all three of them, I have put a lot of time and effort into introducing them to healthy foods and preparing them healthy meals. From breast milk to home-made purees, I started them early. They all liked their vegetables, some fruits and for the most maintained a healthy diet. Sometime about 2 years ago that slowly started falling apart, especially for my oldest son. He now doesn’t eat any fruits or vegetables. When he turned five he made the bold statement that he would start eating vegetables but I’m still waiting for that to happen. My middle son, who is 3, is the best eater of the bunch. He loves fruit, specifically berries, and will eat greens like kale and spinach(not always but sometimes). My little one who is 1 ½, has started in the right direction and I’m really trying to hang on. He does get macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers with French fries but he also eats yogurt, nuts, applesauce and a variety of other healthy items.
As a parent, and a chef, it disturbs me that my children don’t want to eat everything in sight. Also, that they don’t appreciate the effort I put in to prepare their meals but that could be a whole other issue. I’ve turned to the internet many times for tricks to get my kids to like a variety of foods and most say exposure is key. All of my boys like to cook with me, so they are exposed to everything from spinning kale in the salad spinner to making banana chocolate chip muffins and everything in between. Because we cook together, it isn’t so easy for me to ‘hide’ fruits and vegetables in their food. In an effort to get out of our weekly cycle of meals, I’ve turned to the internet again for suggestions. Here are some good ones I found. Follow our Pinterest Board, Kid’s Meals, where I will add more tips and recipes as I find them.
Choices: Kids love being in charge so instead of saying we’re having carrots with dinner tonight, offer a choice… “Would you like carrots or cucumbers with your dinner tonight?” By being ‘the boss’ of what they eat, mealtime is more likely to be successful.
Serve a family meal: It is really nice when a family can sit down and eat together and even nicer when you all eat the same meal. Kids look at their grown-ups for cues so if you are enjoying something sitting next to your child, there is a higher probability they will try it and like it too.
Reward ‘good’ Eating: My grandmother used to say “There is no such thing as I don’t like” and if we complained we would get more of whatever we didn’t like. We got smart and started complaining about dessert. She didn’t fall for that one but it is true that kids like sweets and treats. Offer dessert for finishing dinner or even tasting their vegetables. You’ll be surprised how motivated a child gets over a small treat like a chocolate chip or a mini marshmallow.
Do Your Best: Don’t get frustrated if a meal doesn’t go as planned. Kids are unpredictable at best so what gets eaten one night might get turned down another. Keep trying and something will stick.
If you have any other tricks that work for you please let me know. I’m all ears when it comes to getting kids to eat something that isn’t sugar coated or fried! On that note, have a great Cinco di Mayo this weekend!