Kids are like the Duracell bunny in the TV ad, with endless energy, running around day after day. It can be challenging for parents to handle picky eaters at home and to ensure that their kids are getting all the nutrients they need in order to grow and recharge their invisible batteries. Some of the key nutritional needs for children are calcium and vitamin D for bone growth, iodine, iron and zinc for neurological and immune system development and the development of healthy eating habits in general. Here are seven ways to help your kids to eat well:
1. Identify the reasons for picky eating
Stay calm when your little one starts screaming at you and throwing their food around. Ask why they dislike the food item – is it the texture? Colour? Flavour? Don’t get upset and keep trying!
2. Be patient and try other foods
Respect your child’s options. There are a lot of healthy food choices and cooking methods to try. Kids may not like the strong flavours of herbs and spices, but this doesn’t mean that their food has to be boring. Try different combinations – for example, grilling root vegetables for some extra crispiness (trick them into thinking they’re having chips!) or try stir-frying meat with vegetables.
3. Establish set mealtimes
It’s important to have regular mealtimes for both kids and adults. If your kids are feeling hungry between meals, try giving them a healthy snack such as half a piece of fruit or a small cup of sugar-free yoghurt. It’s okay to have snacks, especially after your kids have been running around. Also, don’t forget to make your children drink lots of water throughout the day.
4. Provide healthy snacks
Prep your own trail mix or yoghurt cups made with unsalted nuts, unsweetened dried fruits and cereal puffs. This is so simple and easy that even your kids can join in for the prep. These can be served for breakfast or as a snack. And a grilled cheese sandwich isn’t as evil as you think if you use wholewheat bread and low-fat cheese. It provides part of the recommended daily allowance of fibre, vitamin D and calcium and it only takes a few minutes to make.
5. Let them choose
Bring your kids with you to the grocery store for a mini food adventure. Introduce some fruits and vegetables and they will likely be attracted by their vibrant colours. Let your kids pick a few, but don’t worry – you’re still under control! You can pick three choices for your kids to choose from. When they are allowed to pick fresh produce for the family, this will increase their incentive to eat and enjoy the food. It can also help you as a parent if you’re having trouble choosing which option to buy out of the three!
6. Keep things colourful
Scrambled egg with a glass of milk may look dull for breakfast, so what about adding some spinach and tomato to the egg to spike up the colour profile? Try different combinations like turkey with spinach, mushroom with spinach and cheese with mushroom. A breakfast packed with fibre and protein will keep your kids full and energised till snack time.
7. Sneak in some vegetables
A new twist to the classic spaghetti bolognese is to use wholewheat pasta or green soybean pasta instead of white pasta. Top it off with more vegetables and your own pasta sauce made with carrot, onion and tomato. This new-twist version is filled with vitamin C and even more dietary fibre.
Still having difficulties preparing meals for your kids? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and our in-house nutritionist will be happy to help!