Three healthy kid hacks for picky eaters
With recipes featuring wholesome ingredients
“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-Am.”
-Guy-I-Am, From Green Eggs and Ham by Doctor Seuss
For some of us, the above quote is a distant memory from a classic children’s book. But for others, it represents a day to day struggle with picky eating. Many young children go through stages where they refuse to eat certain foods, are easily distracted at mealtimes or limit the quantity of food they eat. Dinner time can go from a time to connect to a time of stress or pressure.
Patience is key when you’ve got a picky eater on your hands. It takes time for kids to warm up to a new flavour or texture, but if you continue to offer it to them, they’ll likely start to accept and even enjoy the food. And the good news is, most children grow out of picky eating.
Here are three healthy kid hacks (and accompanying recipes) to help you handle the picky eaters in your family:
1. Offer a variety of food
Variety is the spice of life, and when it comes to dinner time, it can be the missing ingredient to a balanced meal. Providing choice allows kids to feel in control of what they are eating, and the option to sample new foods, instead of an all or nothing approach. Try making a classic kid approved recipe, like chicken nuggets (we like this recipe with a healthy twist) and mix in some wheat germ breaded zucchini along with a side vegetable—giving your kids a choice in how they eat their veggies and more exposure to a food they may be apprehensive to eat. Or try a recipe where kids can choose their own healthy mix ins, like tacos or pizza pockets.
2. Get your kids cooking
When children become involved in choosing or preparing meals, they’re more interested in eating what they’ve made. If you can, bring your kids with you to the grocery store and let them pick out produce or ingredients for your recipe. If they’re old enough, bring them into the kitchen with kid-friendly recipes like pizza bagels or banana bran muffins with raisins.
3. Go stealth with health (occasionally)
For some kids—and adults too—the mention of brussels sprouts is enough to kill their appetite. And for those who like eating veggies, it can still be a challenge to eat the recommended amount each day. That’s why we like recipes that add the veggies right into the main dish, like this veggie mac and cheese and these toddler muffins. While it can be great to sneak in some added vegetables into mealtime, it’s important to expose your children to a wide variety of foods, flavours and textures so they can learn about and enjoy a balanced diet.
Some of the best memories are made around the kitchen table, so try to keep mealtime light and fun. Remember that it’s what you and your kids eat over time that matters. A summer ice cream cone or chocolate cake for dessert is a welcomed treat, as long as it’s balanced with smart food choices and physical activity throughout the week.