Fruits and vegetables… Are they a frequent visitor in your household or just an occasional guest? Do you have trouble getting the kids (or maybe yourself) to include those with every meal? As a parent, you have the most influence on your child. Here are a few suggestions on helping your child to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. ….*Set a good example: Do what I say AND what I do. By eating healthily yourself, your children will follow suit….
*Offer a variety of foods: Keep offering them. Start with a few selections and rotate every week or so. It takes a child about 15 times of seeing a new food before they are willing to try it. You can always request that they take a “no thank-you bite”. This works with my own children. They will even sometimes finish the serving as they find that they like the new food. I always tell them, “You never know, you might like it.”
*Start with small portions: Offer only a few pieces at first. A large serving might overwhelm your child.
*Help them know when they have had enough. Rushing through a meal, being stressed, watching television while eating; all of these things lead to overeating. Slowing down and actually tasting your food while you eat helps your body to signal when it is full and eliminate the chance of overeating.
*Follow a meal and snack schedule: Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. That is the usual schedule followed by families. Be sure to make the snack not too close to lunch or dinner though, or your child may not be hungry during the actual meal time. Snacks are meant to be small meals—not a large portion.
*Make meal time family time: This is your chance to sit down and bond as a family. Ask your children how their day went share your day, talk about upcoming trips or events. Also include your children in preparing the meal. Most likely if they help to prepare it, they will eat it.
*Cope with a picky eater: My son Matthew is a picky eater, so I deal with this on a daily basis. The rule is, is that he must take a “no thank-you” bite. He used to really put up a fuss and my husband and I dreaded those battles. After a few time-outs and going to bed without dinner, Matthew learned that it was easier taking the “no thank-you” bites than doing the time-outs. He also found some new foods that he liked. So, if you have a picky eater in your family, try the “no thank-you” bite strategy. It just might work.
*Make food fun: Ants on a log (celery stick with peanut butter and raisins) is a popular snack. You can search the internet for fun food ideas and get a lot of results. There are many children’s cookbooks that feature fun and creative recipes (hit your local library and check some out). I found one recipe that was a race car made out of a hot dog (we substituted a fish stick), bun, and pretzel wheels. So cute and the kids loved it! (FYI: Nitrate-free hotdogs are now available). Don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun with various foods. Your kids will love it! (I will be happy to share some of my kids’ favorites. It is in a PDF version, so feel free to comment below and I’ll send it to you.
So here’s to a healthier 2011. Invite those fruits and veggies into your home more often. You’ll make a lasting impression on your children and maybe find some new favorite foods!
**Do you have some fun and creative food ideas? Share them below in the comments section!