We know the little ones can be some of the fussiest, most picky eaters – which makes it more difficult for us to keep them well-fed with a balanced, nutritious diet. Below are several tips on pushing through the finicky stage and encouraging your kids to eat healthy.
Have a Creative ‘Packaging’
Present food in a way that is visually interesting and stimulating their senses. You can do this in various ways: put them in your children’s favourite food – for example, carrots in lasagne or cookies; using cute cups to serve healthy drinks for kids such as fruit juice and milk; adding familiar flavours to new food – for example, BBQ glaze sauce on celeries and broccolis.
Involve Your Children in Meal Planning
Take your children through the steps of meal planning: read cookbooks together to pick out interesting recipes, have them pick out the fruits and vegetables at the grocery stores, and recruit their help in rinsing peas, mixing batter or tasting the dish before serving.
When it comes to feeding your kids, it can be tempting to always take the position of authority and talk down. However, this might not be the most effective strategy to get your kids to eat healthy food on their own. Instead, try indirect, more relaxed approaches. Set examples by eating vegetables on your own. Give them some control in the quantity of veggies they’re going to eat to suit their true appetite. When your children are trying something new, do not pressure them with overwhelming attention – if you act like it is commonplace, they are more likely to follow through and try more new things in the future.
…But Also, Be Persistent
Remember: the goal is not to get them to eat veggies tonight, but for the rest of their lives. It can take 10-15 tries before children start to accept a new food. So don’t despair if they refuse to eat the zucchini today – try presenting the option again tomorrow, maybe with a different texture, temperature or seasoning. Slow and steady can be the way to go.