Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Picky Eaters

Now, today I was teaching a nutrition education workshop and was so happy with the turnout of parents attending!  I hope there's good turnout for this post too, because many, many parents find this topic difficult.  Drumroll please...


I know, little ones will be little ones, but trust me, you've got this in the (grocery) bag.

Here are a few simple tips to get us going...

1. Use dip!  Many kids love raw baby carrots, celery sticks, pepper slices, or broccoli crowns.  They like them even more when there is a dip available (and rightfully so- don't we all?).  You're the caregiver, so you can offer healthy dips in the correct portions.  Perhaps you make a dip of greek yogurt, celery salt, dill seasoning, and low-fat mayonnaise, or maybe you're in a rush, and some simple ranch dressing will do the trick.  Remember, dips make veggies taste better, but we want to be having veggies with some dip, not dip with some veggies.

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2. Be a role model.  Kids look up to you all day, everyday.  This means that parents and adults who surround children are their role models, and this goes with food too!  When mom, dad, aunt, babysitter, grandmother, cousin, family friend, etc. eat meals with our little ones and express their excitement and enjoyment over eating vegetables, kids catch on!  On the other hand, if we raise children accustomed to adults ordering a double side of french fries instead of a vegetable, children will follow in suite.  Try to be a good role model by choosing vegetables and fruits at meals and snacks.

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3. Have vegetables available in the home.  If vegetables are in abundance in the home, they will become customary, just like cookies and crackers so quickly become a staple in many homes.  If children are used to being offered vegetables as a snack or at meals, vegetables soon become second nature.

4. When cooking or baking, include vegetables more often.  Instead of keeping your usual routine of a vegetable on the side of the plate, can you throw some sauteed peppers in your spaghetti sauce?  Instead of simply chicken burritos, can you add lettuce, tomatoes, onions, or even squash?  Perhaps instead of a typical sweet bread, can you bake oatmeal zucchini bread?  Another great recipe is sweet potato quesadillas.  We don't want to be tricking our little ones too much though, because they are soon going to grow up and be adults.  We want them to be able to make healthful choices themselves.

5. Include children during shopping, cooking, and meal times.  If your young one is old enough and you have the time, including them at the grocery store (I understand this is the most difficult tip) and talking with them about vegetables in the produce section can really intrigue children.  Kids love to learn!  Remember, they love to learn even more when the information comes from you!  So, soak up the moment, and include them at dinner.  Maybe they can set the table or pick out the vegetable serving utensils.  Can then be in charge of telling everyone what is being offered at dinner?  Most little ones love to be included, so let them in!  

6. Start while they're young.  If you have a little one in your life who is still at a young age, this tip is for you.  Incorporating vegetables as a daily habit is much easier when kids are younger.  So take advantage of their young age and expose them to a variety of vegetables while their taste buds and opinions are still forming.

Many more tips to come!  
I'd love to hear your ideas too and what works for you!  
Until next time at the table...

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