Above are pictures of my four-year old son and an 18 month old daughter. I work hard to provide food that nurtures, heals and benefits their growing bodies. They eat healthy because it really is the only option in our house.
Even if your little one seems to hate healthy food, with patience and love you can still win your little one(s) over! As adults, we know that healthy food is necessary to run our bodies at optimum efficiency. Little ones on the other hand, would probably be happy with jam toast, cereal and cookies for each meal..that is a recipe for disaster and a definite no-no!
Some tips that I go by are:
- Be a role model! Even as a baby, your child will observe and learn how to live through your actions. As your child grows older he/she will become increasingly more aware of your food choices. You cannot expect your child to eat something that you refuse to eat (especially if you do it often).
- Take your child to the grocery store and let them pick the produce they want to eat. My son loves to ask for certain foods. Out of the blue he will say “mommy, I would like broccoli tonight”…at the dinner table he gobbles up every last bite up.
- Let your child take part in food prep and let them be responsible for a small (and safe) prepping task. I always ask my son if he would like to help out with the making of our meal. It will make the child feel important and help them to grow a connection with the meal. Talk about all the ingredients that will make the meal.
- Let them feel, smell and taste the ingredients
- Show your child the finished meal that they had a hand in creating. At dinner, I always discuss how the meal was “homemade” and the reasons why it is so healthy. By teaching your child at a young age about healthy, whole food eating, you are providing a strong foundation. Your child will need that knowledge to one day choose the right option when you are not there.
- Avoid processed snacks. Leave all of the toddler snacks including goldfish crackers, animal crackers and gummie bears on the store shelves. Instead, offer high protein Greek yogurt, fresh fruit or raw veggies with homemade hummus. When meal time comes you want them to be hungry, not filled up with nutrient void snacks.
- Make water or calcium enriched milk the options to choose from. If you don’t have a large container of juice or a pop in your fridge, your kids will forget and be happy with what they are given. It’s much better for your children to eat their daily intake of fresh fruit or try a fresh fruit and veggie smoothie-you can sneak a lot in there and they don’t even realize it.
- Don’t get frustrated. If you child will not eat, try and try again. Many times I have tried to introduce a new food to only get a closed mouth and turn away from my little one. I always try again. She always comes around!
Remember that it’s not going to be easy. Patience is key. Sometimes you may feel like you are climbing an uphill battle with no end in sight. That’s okay because as the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Baby steps, but consistent baby steps will win the race!
Please feel free to send me any comments and questions. I know children and healthy eating together can be tough. I would love to hear your thoughts.