Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"How to Raise a Non Picky Eater" by Mama Rika

Getting kids to eat healthily is easiest when you make it a focus from their earliest years. Here are some tips that have worked for me in getting my children to be good eaters. {Truth be told, I may have done too good of a job! They eat just about anything and everything in sight and do so constantly!}

Step 1

I suppose it is perfectly obvious that the first step should be to set a good example of healthy eating yourself!

Step 2

Starting from when your child is introduced to solid foods, make it a habit to feed him or her healthy things. Don't feed babies and toddlers sugar laden, artificially flavored cereals to snack on. Choose toasted O's, puffed rice, puffed corn and similar products as finger foods.

Step 3

As the child grows, encourage him/her to try a variety of foods. In fact, the rule at our house is that everyone must try new foods. Our world has a rich supply of delicious & healthy foods to tempt our palates. Don't limit the things you serve. If you don't like peas, your child might anyway!

Step 4

If a child eats something and claims to not like it, simply say, "Thank you for trying. Your taste buds aren't grown up enough yet. Maybe next time you will like it." This becomes true as a child that continues to try foods over and over, they will discover that they actually do like something that they originally thought they didn't like. We have proven this time and time again at my house.

Step 5

We have a rule at our house that applies to those that understand it. Everyone can choose one item to put on their "list". If that item is on your list, you don't have to eat it. Mom and Dad both have something on their list too. You have to guard against people trying to change the item on their list every time something new is served. If you notice a child claiming different foods are on their list each time they come to the dinner table, remind them they have to stick with what they chose. If they chose spinach, but then decide that they hate cabbage instead, then the next time spinach is served, they must eat the spinach! This rule allows a little leeway so that the try everything rule is not so strict!

Step 6

Allow snacks between meals, only if the child ate his/her regular meal. If the regular meal didn't get eaten, cover it and put it in the fridge. When snack time rolls around, pull out the covered plate and allow the child to eat that before eating anything else. Explain that we don't want to waste food.

Step 7

In our home, the kids can eat as much fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks. If they want something else, they should ask first.

Step 8

Bring home unusual foods on occasion. Scope out the exotic fruit, try cashew butter, find a way to cook acorn squash, etc. Be excited yourself about trying the new item. Ask everyone's opinion of the new food and discuss what was liked and not liked about the item. Was the texture funny but the flavor good? Do you think it would be good served in a different way?

Step 9

Have fun with food! Create cute snacks. Have a dinner with a theme. Try eating food from a foreign country after reading about it. Pretend to eat as if you were a royal princess or some other character.

Step 10

Always eat together as a family as much as possible! Not only does this promote healthy family relationships, it allows younger family members to mimic the older ones healthy eating habits. It is a great way to be able to encourage your children in choosing good foods. Making time to eat together implies sitting around the kitchen table, rather than grabbing food and rushing out the door. Sitting down and eating in a relaxed and fun environment helps allow your body to properly digest food.

This post is obviously not all inclusive. You will need to tweak things to work for your family. I believe by implementing the steps I outlined, children will eat better, but it isn't a completely fool proof plan!

So, that's some things I do. What do you do?

1 comment:

Scarehaircare said...

#3 was written for me. I do not like peas but my some of my kids do.

#4 is the perfect answer. I want my kids to feel success just for trying it. We do point out at out house that it might be something they will eat as missionaries. They are more interested in trying it then.

#6 and #7 I am ready to put a lock on my pantry. I quit buying crackers and puddings for awhile b/c they would disappear while the baby carrots, pita chips and hummus, and other healthy snacks weren’t touched.

#8 I take one of my children with me on my weekly grocery shopping trip. That child gets to choose something they would like to try from the produce department. They have loved picking out the most unusal things: star fruit, Jerusalem artichokes, diakon radishes, etc.

#9 We have missionary night once a month at our house. We pick a country, research the recipes (Which might require a trip to an ethnic grocery), p[lay traditional music (local library is a great source or stream it from your internet) and learn a few words. The kids have loved Bulgogi from Korea, Pierogis from Poland, Peruvian bean stew, fried plantains, salad Nicoise… get the idea.

Good post Mama Rika!