Getting children to eat healthy, natural, green foods can be stressful if the wrong strategies are adopted. Don”t give up, there are ways to get it right.
Vegetables, legumes and other plant foods are not usually among the preferences of children. They prefer pizzas, chips, and pasta. However, it is possible to make vegetables and fruits tasty, enter their eyes and become allies of the little ones.
DON”T TRY TO CONVINCE CHILDREN TO EAT
For some families, time at the dining room table becomes a real struggle. Phrases like “I don”t like that” or “I don”t want more spinach” are part of the children”s repertoire. Trying to convince them with arguments is usually not effective. It is much more helpful for parents and older siblings to portray themselves as role models, and to enjoy eating the foods that we want them to eat. It makes no sense to ask them to eat vegetables and not see us eat them. To be examples you have to eat all together and all the same.
On the other hand, you have to understand the phases that children go through. Many, from one and a half to six years old, like to say “no” to anything new on their plate. Sweets can sneak in to your preferences, but any sour, bitter, or spicy note is rejected. The strategy is to offer them these flavors in small doses.
NOTHING DIFFERENT IS COOKED FOR CHILDREN
It is not a good idea to cook especially for children. As soon as they turn one year old, they can sit at the table with their parents and eat the same. This is how they get used to a varied and healthy diet, the same one that their parents follow. However, it is better to serve the vegetables in dishes for each one to serve.
To familiarize yourself with the new flavors, it is a good idea to play the game of “lick, spit, or swallow.” Explain to the child that he can touch and lick the food, and that he can put it in his mouth and spit it on the edge of the plate if he does not like it. Nothing happens if you decide not to swallow it. You can try to bite into a piece and eat it as a test and continue with the rest only if you want. If the child doesn”t like it, he spits it out and places himself on the edge of the plate. This is how children get used to new foods easily.
DOS AND DON”TS AT THE TABLE
The mobile phone ringing, stress or discussions on any topic are not good conditions for a relaxed meal with children. We will show you ten tricks for a relaxed atmosphere.
- Strengthening relationships. The daily life of many families is stressful and eating with everyone at the table is difficult. That is why you have to agree to eat at least one meal a day together and in peace.
- All together. Wait until everyone has taken a seat to start together. In kindergartens they usually sing a song all together before starting to eat. It”s a great idea. As they get older, the song can be replaced by a phrase or family ritual that puts us all in a good mood.
- Make weekly plans. To avoid disputes, think as a family what you want to eat in the next few days. In this case, the complaints are not valid, because the decision was made together.
- Practice makes a master. Do the vegetables fall to the floor or does the sauce drip onto the table when served? Don”t be mad, stay calm. It will be better next time.
- Become a role model. Eat the way you want your children to eat. Don”t reject healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, or whole grain products. Otherwise, your kids are likely to avoid them as well.
- Avoid difficult topics. Arguments are not part of the meal. Better postpone them for later. Instead, talk about the positive experiences of the day or make plans for the weekend.
- Strength is in peace. For a conscious diet and a cozy gathering at the table, calls or messages on your mobile phone, the sound of television or radio are poison. Therefore, turn off these devices.
- Don”t apply pressure. Foods eaten in an atmosphere of pressure or obligation are more likely to increase aversion to a food. So make sure you have a calm environment.
- Little chefs. It tastes better if you cook it yourself. Children who help prepare food in the kitchen will proudly present their results and eat better.
- Superhero casserole. Get creative and give your dishes fun fancy names. According to studies, something as simple as that encourages children to eat healthier foods.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES ARE THE REAL STARS
There are always tricks to make things more appetizing and visually appealing for children.
- It tastes twice as good when it is cleverly hidden: for example, add some vegetables to the tomato sauce, in an amount that does not completely alter its flavor, and crush it. If the experiment works, after they have eaten it, you can explain that what they liked so much is tomato sauce with broccoli.
- “Happy face”: To increase the popularity of the fruit, you can create funny faces: a pineapple slice is the face, cherries become eyes, a blueberry is the nose, and an apple wedge becomes a laughing mouth. Let your creativity break through.
- Colorful plates: make a colored pancake batter (with natural pigments like turmeric) or purees with vegetable juices. This way you can transform plates into sparkling rainbows in no time.
- Fit: Use cookie cutters and give veggie sandwiches a new look.
- Variations: Serve kohlrabi, carrot, or bell pepper as raw vegetables. Some children prefer them this crunchy way.
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