Does one (or worse--both) of your children make meal time miserable by refusing to eat anything except for macaroni & cheese…OR pizza…OR worse? If so, here are some tips to help you teach them to try and like new foods--even the healthy ones!
- Far too often children carry around sippy cups full of milk, juice & juice drinks. Remember that children (and adults) only need about 24 oz milk/day and 4-6 oz 100% fruit juice/day (no more than 8 oz for adults). Other beverages are just empty calories filling your child up with zero nutrition and loads of sugar, which makes them less likely to eat the food you offer them. Watch how much you’re giving your kids to drink and offer only water the hour before meals.
Try, try again.
- Sometimes kids won’t eat a food the first time it’s offered, but don’t give up. It may take 10 or 20 times before your child finally decides to try that food, but they will eventually try it and they just might like it too!
Disguise if necessary.
- If you’re worried about your child’s overall nutrition (especially when it comes to vegetables), it never hurts to hide healthy options in sauces or casseroles. Find a food processor-it might become your new best friend.
Offer with familiar food.
- If you put a plate full of new foods in front of your kids, they are less likely to try all of it. If they’re stuck on macaroni cheese, pair the new food along with the old.
Let them help.
- Whether shopping at the store or preparing dinner, if they help, they may be more interested in trying it.
Be a good role model.
- As much as we wish it didn’t matter what we ate, it does. If they see you eating or NOT eating a certain food (or beverage) chances are the child will want to model their parent’s behavior. If you want your child to eat their peas, be sure you eat yours too!
Encourage, but don’t force.
- Encourage your child to try the food, but don’t require them to eat the entire portion. One bite is better than none and the next time around, they may try more.
Limit TV time
- Or any other distractions during mealtime. If the TV is on, so will be commercials for sugary cereals and other unhealthy foods that are targeted at children, making the vegetables on their dinner plate look much less appetizing.
So the next time your twins scream about wanting junk food or throw their vegetables across the room, take a deep breath and remember these tips. Hopefully they will ease some of your mealtime stress.
Feel free to comment below or email me with any questions you might have. Whether the questions are about weight loss, specific plans for you, general nutrition needs for you and/or your children, or whatever, I am here to help you!
As well, if you have suggestions for topics you would like me to discuss in Katie's Nutrition Nook, please let me know.
CMOTC MoM and Nutritionist