By CARLA BUSH and KAYLA WILKINS
Having a hard time getting your children to eat fruits and vegetables, drink milk, and to try new foods?
You know how important it is to feed your children healthy foods, but you are feeling guilty about your child's diet and you are not sure how to improve it or what to do? Then I can help you with some creative ways to get your picky eaters to eat healthy.
Starting your children early on how to eat healthy and teaching them that healthy eating will help them grow big and strong and remain that way through adulthood is a sure way to help them keep in mind that they should eat healthy. Working in a daycare setting for over 4 years with children from ages 2 to 5 years of age has taught me that young children are very picky about what they eat. They are very smart and at an early age know what they like and what they do not like. Some parents even have to bring their child lunch to daycare because they will not eat what is being provided for them. Here are some tips that I would like to share with you to make eating healthy for your child fun and simple.
1. Make a schedule. Children need to eat every three hours, three meals, two snacks, and lots of fluid. If you plan for these your child's diet will be much more balanced and he will be a lot less cranky. If you are out with your children all day on weekends a suggestion for you is to leave a cooler in your car and keep it stocked with different foods such as carrots, pretzels, yogurt, and water so you will not have to rely on fast foods.
2. Plan Dinners. If thinking of a weekly meal plan is to overwhelming, then just start with like two or three days at a time. A good dinner does not have to be fancy, but always remember that it should be balanced. Whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta; a fruit or a vegetable; and a protein source like lean meat, cheese, or beans. . An example of a simple dinner would be you could make a soup or Mexican chili and freeze it, when dinnertime rolls around you can heat it up and add whole grain bread and cut up apples or melons to round out your meal.
3. Don't be a short order cook. Don't get into a bad habit of making two suppers. A lot of moms make one for their kids and then one for her and her spouse it will become very exhausting. Just prepare one meal for everybody and serve it family-style so that the kids can pick and choose what they want. Children often mimic their parents' behavior, so one of these days; they'll eat most of the food you serve them.
4. Bite your tongue. As hard as this may be, try not to comment on what or how much your kids are eating. Be as neutral as possible. Remember, you've done your job as a parent by serving balanced meals; your kids are responsible for eating them. If you play food enforcer -- saying things like "Eat your vegetables" -- your child will only resist.
5. Introduce new foods slowly. Children are new-food-phobic by nature. I use to tell my kids at the daycare that their taste buds sometimes have to get used to a flavor before they'll like the taste. A little hero worship can work wonders too. I would say things like Superman and Wreck it Ralph eats vegetables to stay big and strong and I saw major results when saying that, now a lot of them have started to eat the vegetables provided for them during lunchtime.
6. Dip it. If your kids won't eat vegetables, experiment with dips. For example try a thinly cut carrot with some ranch salad dressing as your child's first vegetable. Some children also like hummus, salsa, and yogurt-based dressing.
7. Make mornings count. Most families don't eat enough fiber on a daily basis, and breakfast is an easy place to sneak it in. Look for high-fiber cereals for a quick fix. Or, you can make up batches of whole-grain pancake and waffle batter that last all week. For a batch that serves five, sift together 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, 4 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 Tbs. sugar. When you're ready to cook, mix in 2 Tbs. ground flax meal, 2 cups water, 3 Tbs. canola oil, 1/4 tsp. vanilla, and 2 Tbs. applesauce.
8. Sneak in soy. Even if your kids don't have milk allergies, soy milk is a terrific source of healthy phytochemicals. Most kids don't like soy milk but don't notice when it's hidden in a recipe. You can use the low-fat, calcium-fortified kind in some recipes that call for milk, such as oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and sauces.
9. Sprinkle some sugar. Some children like to eat cooked carrots with a bit of brown sugar, and you can mix a little root beer into their prune juice to make prune-juice soda Some even like a sprinkle of sugar on their fruit. Always remember that they'll eventually outgrow this need for extra sweetness, but in the meantime, they're eating fruits and vegetables!!
10. Get kids cooking. If your children become involved in choosing or preparing meals, they'll be more interested in eating what they've created. Take them to the store, and let them choose produce for you. If they're old enough, allow them to cut up vegetables and mix them into a salad. Although some kids might refuse to eat fresh fruit, try making banana or apple muffins together , trust me they will always eat them when they are done
11. Cut back on junk. Remember, you not your kids are in charge of the foods that enter the house. By having fewer junk foods around, you'll force your children to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products.
12. Allow treats. Having less healthy foods occasionally keeps them from becoming forbidden -- and thus even more appealing. We call candy, soda, and cookies "sometimes" foods. Generally just buy healthy cereals such as Cheerios and Raisin Brans, but let your kids have sugary cereal when they visit grandparents or when you are on vacation. You can treat them to McDonalds for lunch every so often.
13. Have fun. The more creative the meal is, the greater the variety of foods your kids will eat. You can make smiley-face pancakes and give foods silly names. (Broccoli florets are "baby trees" or "dinosaur food.") Anything mini is always a hit too. You can use cookie cutters to turn toast into hearts and stars, which children love.
14. Be a role model. If you're constantly on a diet or have erratic eating habits, your children will grow up thinking that this sort of behavior is normal. Be honest with yourself about the kinds of food messages you're sending. Trust your body to tell you when you're hungry and when you're full, and your kids will learn to do the same.
15. Adjust your attitude. Realize that what your kids eat over time is what matters. Having popcorn at the movies or eating an ice-cream sundae is some of life's real pleasures. As long as you balance these times with smart food choices and physical activity, your children will be fine.