BY ELIZABETH PANTLEY
DO you have a picky eater in your house? Join the club! Eighty-five percent of parents say that they have a child who is (or was) a picky eater.
A clear majority of families have at least one picky eater in the house! Seventy percent of parents admit their child eats too much junk food. Over 65% of parents report problems getting their children to eat vegetables. Kids should eat three to five servings of veggies per day, but a third of kids don’t eat a single serving of vegetables on a given day. There are easy ways to encourage your kids to eat—and enjoy—vegetables. Try some of these tips:
Put vegetables on a pedestal. It’s an odd fact that while vegetables are a healthy cornerstone of any diet, they are usually relegated to a back corner side dish. While interesting recipes appear for main dishes, the vegetables are often steamed or boiled in a routinely boring presentation. Start treating vegetables as the star of the meal and your kids will too.
Name the star of the show. Vegetables rarely get the spotlight. When kids ask, “what’s for dinner?” we name the meat and starch—“chicken and rice” or “steak and potatoes” and don’t even mention the vegetables. From now on, name the veggies first. Create a fun name for the vegetable of the day. You can help your children view them in a different light. So, what’s for dinner? “We’re having Brilliant Bunches of Broccoli along with chicken and rice.”
Search out new recipes for veggies. Try stir-frying a mix of veggies with olive oil to give them an attractive presentation and a unique flavor. Add a sprinkling of nuts or seeds or a dribble of sauce. Mix two or even three kinds of vegetables together for a colorful dish.
Get artistic. It can be fun to serve vegetables in interesting containers or arranged colorfully in patterns or shapes
Let them dip ‘em. Serve a platter of raw veggies with dipping sauce such as ranch dressing, yogurt, or hummus Kids often prefer raw vegetables over cooked, especially if they can dip.
Give kids a choice. Routinely serve two vegetables at dinner so that you double the chance your child will eat at least one. Plus, seeing two vegetables will build an expectation that vegetables are important.
Get sneaky. While you are teaching your child about nutrition, go ahead and hide some vegetables within other recipes to up your child’s daily quota. It’s easy to add chopped spinach to hamburgers, pureed squash into macaroni and cheese, crushed cauliflower into mashed potatoes, or bits of carrots and broccoli into spaghetti sauce. That way your kids get the benefits of vegetables no matter what.GFM
Excerpted from The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution (McGraw-Hill) by Elizabeth Pantley.
MORE ADVICE . . .
My daughter would be happy eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. How can I get her to eat different foods?
It can be frustrating when kids want to eat the same thing every day—but it’s not uncommon. Encourage them to try at least a few bites of different nutritious foods at each meal. Kids are often slow to accept new tastes and textures, so you may have to present a food 10 to 15 times before they’ll try it.
Look for recipes with ingredients your kids like, and invite them to join you in the grocery shopping, cooking, and serving of foods. Don’t let them fill up on juice, and try offering veggies as between-meal snacks. Since your child likes peanut butter, let her put it on other foods as a topping. Or use cookie cutters to make other foods into fun shapes.
It’s important not to let a child’s pickiness become a source of mealtime tension. You shouldn’t cook special meals just for a picky eater, but do include something he or she likes in every meal. And although it might be tempting, don’t use food as a reward. Telling kids they can have a cookie if they eat their broccoli only reinforces the appeal of the cookie over the veggies.
Courtesy of Nemours Foundation