Hip, Hip Hooray! You all seemed to enjoy the placating picky eaters post, part 1 so here we go with part II.
I sure hope this helps to bring some more enjoyment and fun to the dinner table. Speaking of fun, what fun and silly things to you all do at mealtime?
Interesting Food Everyone will Love: Host Kimberly Coleman, Mom in the City, asked participants to share some of the healthy, interesting foods their picky eaters enjoyed.
“My kids are big fans of eggs,” said Dara Michalski. “We make a lot of frittatas for dinner (quick and easy). We’re able to include a variety of proteins and veggies into them.”
And for those with kids who won’t touch fruit, “My 12 year old son wouldn’t eat fruit until he discovered smoothies,” said co-host Amy Johnson, She Wears Many Hats. “He now enjoys preparing one or more daily! Even combining several kinds of fruit!”
“My kids always respond to the fun shaped fruits and veggies,” added Brooke McLay. “Last week, we tried starfruit, kiwi, and berry skewers. Keep introducing new colors and flavors of fresh fruits and veggies and you never know what might stick!”
You can also try “playing” with your food to encourage kids to try new things. Participant Stephanie said her son loves “sugar snap peas – since we made it a game of the peas peeking out of the pod, he now calls them peek-a-boo peas!”
“I got my son to eat his first sandwich by cutting it into a letter shape because he loves the alphabet,” commented Shari Simpson-Cabelin, who writes at Earth Mom just means I’m dusty.
Kim also shared a link from CBS about great lunch ideas for kids.
Making Meals Work for Everyone
“One of the things I love to do is make one meal work for everyone,” said Kelsey Banfield. “I usually take one or two elements of a meal and adjust them for the adults and children. For example, we all love pesto (daughter included). So for her I do cheese tortellini with pesto and for us I do salmon with pesto. I hope someday she’ll be curious about the salmon part since it includes one of her favorite condiments … Starting off with a common ingredient and branching out from there is a great way to introduce new food.”
Brooke McLay added, “My pediatrician is fond of saying that no well-loved kid has ever starved themselves to death. At some point, they get hungry enough to taste the food that is available. So, in our house, it’s one meal for everyone. And if they don’t like it, they can brush their teeth, go to bed, and wait until breakfast.”
You can also ask your kids to help you prepare the meal to encourage them to eat the same thing you’re eating.
“Sometimes I’ll cook with both of my girls and I’ll intentionally choose something that is new,” said Kristy Bernardo, The Wicked Noodle. “They’ve never turned down something they’ve made themselves – they’re too proud of it!”
Educating the Littlest Consumer
Kelsey noted that taking your kids to the farmer’s market or grocery store when you stock up for meals “can be a great way to get kids curious about food and maybe give them a choice of healthy snacks.”
Co-host Shaina Olmanson, Food for My Family, added, “My husband and I do our grocery shopping and our cooking with all four of our children … We have seen how important this is to getting them to eat healthy and develop a good relationship with food.”
“I love showing my kids where food comes from – we visit farms and farm markets all the time,” said co-host Jo-Lynne Shane, Musings of a Housewife.
Co-host Jen Rabulan-Bertram, Next Kid Thing, suggested “going strawberry, apple and pumpkin picking–or whatever is in season,” which can be “fun and educational, too.”
You can take that a step further and start your own backyard garden with your kids – “My daughter loved realizing that the tomatoes we grew made tomato sauce!” Kelsey noted. And kids who grow their own veggies “can’t wait to wash them and bite right in,” said Jennifer Leal.
“Sneaking” Foods into Meals?
Opinions varied widely on whether moms should sneak healthy foods into other foods their kids like to help them vary their diets.
“I don’t see anything WRONG with it, but I don’t go out of my way to be ‘sneaky’ either,” said Jo-Lynne Shane. “I just keep a variety of nourishing food around. They eat what they like and leave the rest. I don’t stress over it.”
“I think sneaking is okay as long as it doesn’t replace trying to teach children how to eat healthy,” said Kristy Bernardo. “The goal is to get them to develop lifelong healthy habits, not just get the foods down their throats.”
“My Mom would say it was chicken when it was really tofu,” added Charlene. “Later she would tell us. I guess because she knew us and that for us it was mental. So like most said, it depends on who and how picky your child is.”
“I sometimes ‘hide the truth’ about what’s in a meal, said Kelsey. “Don’t delve into it too much. I think keeping things low-key is ok. I don’t lie, but I keep it low-key.”
Similarly, Dara Michalski and her husband “don’t actually lie about what is in a dish, but we do have certain names for a couple of foods. For example, for awhile we called couscous ‘mini rice’ because both of my boys liked rice, but were hesitant about the couscous.”
“I think that exposing kids to the real, actual foods is most important without a doubt,” concluded Kimberly Coleman. “However, every kid is different and I think that moms should do what they need to do in order for their kids to get their (real, not imagined) nutrient needs met.”
Co-host Dara Michalski, Cookin’ Canuck, had additional advice for parents of picky eaters based on experience. “I have worked with many children who have significant eating issues, and one of the most basic and helpful changes the parents make is to insist on a regular meal and snack schedule so that kids are not grazing on food throughout the day (and are then not that hungry at mealtime),” she said. “Also, requiring that the child sits at the table to eat, rather than taking a couple of bites between playing, can make a big difference.”
Stacie Billis agreed, noting that the policy in her home is “no snacks at all after 3:30 pm. Being hungry at dinner time is key to helping dinner go as smoothly as possible.”
And if they won’t eat dinner anyway? “If my son won’t eat his dinner, I save it for him,” said Shari Simpson-Cabelin. “If he says, ‘I’m hungry’ at bedtime, he gets… the same dinner. It’s helped quite a bit.”
Rewards for Trying New Foods or Flavors
Participant Janice Bissex said, “We have a recipe reviewer chart (pictured above) on MealMakeoverMoms.com. It helps to get kids excited about trying new foods when they are the official reviewer. After trying a certain number of new foods, the child get a prize – we encourage rewards to be fitness or education related
“Sometimes I buy the healthier versions of regular food like Whole Wheat Spaghetti instead of regular,” said Kelsey Banfield. “I do reward my daughter, but usually with the promise of an extra book for bed time!”
More Resources: http://www.readyseteat.com/