|Establishing healthy eating habits|
|Monday, 18 November 2013 12:12|
How to get your kids to eat vegetables
As every loving parent knows, there is a fine line between cajoling and threatening your children in order to get them to eat their vegetables. Establishing healthy eating habits while they are young is one of the best things you can do for your children.
5 Give teens choices. Older children will be more set in their ways, but don’t give up the fight. Still set out tossed salads and ask your teens to whip up a salad dressing of their liking.
6 Make a schedule. Children need to eat every three to four hours: three meals, two snacks, and lots of fluids. If you plan for these, your child's diet will be much more balanced and he'll be less cranky, because he won't be famished. I put a cooler in the car when I'm out with my kids and keep it stocked with carrots, pretzels, yogurt, and water so we don't have to rely on fast food.
7 Plan dinners. If thinking about a weekly menu is too daunting, start with two or three days at a time. A good dinner doesn't have to be fancy, but it should be balanced: whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta; a fruit or a vegetable; and a protein source like lean meat, cheese, or beans. I often make simple entree soups or Mexican chilli ahead of time and then freeze it; at dinnertime, I heat it up and add whole-grain bread and a bowl of cut-up apples or melon to round out the meal.
8 Don't become a short-order cook. A few years ago, I got into a bad habit. I'd make two suppers -- one that I knew the kids would like and one for my husband and me. It was exhausting. Now I prepare one meal for everybody and serve it family-style so the kids can pick and choose what they want. Children often mimic their parents' behaviour, so one of these days, they'll eat most of the food I serve them.
9 Bite your tongue. As hard as this may be, try not to comment on what or how much your kids are eating. Be as neutral as possible. Remember, you've done your job as a parent by serving balanced meals; your kids are responsible for eating them. If you play food enforcer -- saying things like "Eat your vegetables" -- your child will only resist.
10 Introduce new foods slowly. Children are new-food-phobic by nature. I tell my kids that their taste buds sometimes have to get used to a flavour before they'll like the taste. A little hero worship can work wonders too. Marty refused to even try peas until I told him that Michael Jordan eats his to stay big and strong. Now Marty eats peas all the time. Offer One New Vegetable Plus a Familiar One. Don't overwhelm your child by offering an entire plate filled with foods he doesn't recognise or doesn't like. Ask him to try only one new vegetable at a time. Make sure you serve other familiar foods -- hopefully including at least a veggie he already likes. That way you can encourage him to try the new food, but you'll both know he'll have something to eat if he isn't a fan.
11 Dip it. If your kids won't eat vegetables, experiment with dips. Kathleen tried her first vegetable when I served her a thinly cut carrot with some ranch salad dressing. My children also like hummus, salsa, and yogurt-based dressing. A healthy dip like hummus may make raw vegetables more appealing to kids. (Don't serve up sour cream or mayo-based dips.) Offer an array of baby carrots, snap peas, and other veggies with a bowl of tasty dip. Besides hummus, find a healthy recipe for ranch dressing that substitutes plain, low-fat yogurt instead of mayo. Kids like the act of dipping, and they like eating foods with their fingers
12 Make mornings count. Most families don't eat enough fibre on a daily basis, and breakfast is an easy place to sneak it in. Look for high-fibre cereals for a quick fix. Or, do what I do and make up batches of whole-grain pancake and waffle batter that last all week. For a batch that serves five, sift together 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, 4 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 Tbs. sugar. When you're ready to cook, mix in 2 Tbs. ground flax meal, 2 cups water, 3 Tbs. canola oil, 1/4 tsp. vanilla, and 2 Tbs. applesauce.
13 Sneak in soy. Even if your kids don't have milk allergies, soy milk is a terrific source of healthy phytochemicals. My kids don't like soy milk but don't notice when it's hidden in a recipe. I use the low-fat, calcium-fortified kind in some recipes that call for milk, such as oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and sauces.
14 Sprinkle some sugar. Julia eats her cooked carrots with a bit of brown sugar, and I mix a little root beer into her prune juice to make prune-juice soda. Kathleen and Marty like a sprinkle of sugar on their fruit. I know that they'll eventually outgrow this need for extra sweetness, but in the meantime, they're eating fruits and vegetables.
15 Cut back on junk. Remember, you -- not your kids -- are in charge of the foods that enter the house. By having fewer junk foods around, you'll force your children to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products.
16 Allow treats. Having less healthy foods occasionally keeps them from becoming forbidden -- and thus even more appealing. We call candy, soda, and cookies "sometimes" foods. I generally buy only healthy cereals such as Cheerios and Raisin Bran, but I let my kids have sugary cereals when they visit their grandparents or when we're on vacation. And I treat them to McDonald's for lunch every so often.
17 Have fun. The more creative the meal is, the greater the variety of foods my kids eat. We make smiley-face pancakes and give foods silly names. (Broccoli florets are "baby trees" or "dinosaur food.") Anything mini is always a hit too. I often use cookie cutters to turn toast into hearts and stars, which the children love.
18 Be a role model. If you're constantly on a diet or have erratic eating habits, your children will grow up thinking that this sort of behaviour is normal. Be honest with yourself about the kinds of food messages you're sending. Trust your body to tell you when you're hungry and when you're full, and your kids will learn to do the same.
19 Adjust your attitude. Realise that what your kids eat over time is what matters. Having popcorn at the movies or eating an ice-cream sundae are some of life's real pleasures. As long as you balance these times with smart food choices and physical activity, your children will be fine.
20 Sneak veggies into baked goods. "It eliminates the battle," says Missy Chase Lapine, author of The Sneaky Chef cookbooks. "We have precious time with our kids, and I would rather not spend it fighting over broccoli." She makes brownies with pureed spinach, chocolate chip cookies with white beans, and muffins with sweet potatoes and carrots. "Kids are happy. Parents are happy. The body is happy. It's a total win/win."
27 Don't Battle Over Veggies. When you're frustrated that your child won't try a veggie, it can be tempting to get mad or force her to clean her plate. Experts say forcing a child to eat something can cause them to avoid eating it, even as adults. "You never want to force feed because you don’t want it become an emotional drama," says dietician Tanner-Blasiar. "Don’t react one way or another. There are going to be things that they're not going to eat."
Articles by www.webmd.com, www.ehow.com and www.parents.com