If you’re a parent or guardian of small children, encouraging proper nutrition is never far from your mind. And, if your child is one of the picky ones, then you’re probably also a little bit stressed by the whole thing.
There are few more frustrating feelings in parenting than placing a plate of food in front of your child only to watch them scrunch up their noses and push the plate away. “I don’t like this,” they complain, and slowly pull the universal boneless kid maneuver and slink down and out of their chair like a little worm. “But you liked it the last time I made it…” you plead. “It tastes different!” says the kid. All you’re trying to do is help them grow up big and strong!
Well, you’re not alone! There are days when even the most conscientious parents will just be satisfied if their child eats anything. If it’s half a sleeve of crackers and a hunk of cheese, so be it! At least they ate!
We’ve all been there, and you're not a bad parent. Believe it or not, we’re all just trying to do the right thing and it’s not always easy. Kids are learning how to control their worlds in the small ways they can, and that means they’re starting to put their foot down more frequently. Not every meal you serve is going to be properly proportioned servings or protein, fruits, veggies and whole grains.
However, there are great reasons to encourage good nutrition for your children, and ways to pull it off!
Here are some of them…
Set An Example
Children learn by watching, so let them watch you eat. Let them see you enjoying a variety of healthy foods, and then see them mimicking your example. Your positive example to your children while you’re eating meals together will go a long way in convincing them to learn to appreciate healthy foods.
Get Them Involved
The freedom of choice is a great motivator for people, and especially young children who are just learning how to control their world. Including them in meal prep will give them a say in what they eat, even if it’s just being able to choose between certain fruits and vegetables. Presenting them with a variety of food options to choose from helps children form positive relationships with healthy choices.They can even be involved in age-appropriate cooking tasks like washing, peeling and butter knife chopping.
If you want your child to be more engaged in healthy food behaviors, family meals are a great way to model it for them. Not just a great time to get the whole busy brood together to catch up on the day, family meals promote positive food association in kids. Seeing the whole family together, enjoying prepared meals will give your children time with their favorite people as they discover their favorite foods.
It goes without saying that processed foods and sugary drinks aren’t intended to be an everyday occurrence. Discouraging excessive amounts of unhealthy food can be a struggle at times, but building the understanding that it’s only for special occasions, if at all, is always a good move. Instead, opt for whole foods and healthier, fruit-infused beverages.
Fun & Healthy Foods
Food can be good and good for you! Presenting healthy food in a creative way can make them more enticing for children. Use cookie cutters to give fruits and vegetables fun shapes! Arrange healthy foods into funny faces! Create fun, colorful salads! There are lots of ways to get your kids involved, if you pull out a little creative inspiration.
In that spirit, here’s a fun game to play to encourage healthy food habits…
Smoothie Challenge Game
Gather an array of healthy, smoothie-ready foods, and let your child Place fruits, vegetables and other healthy add-ons in bowls around your blender so your child can study, think and choose.
While they’re choosing their ingredients, they can also learn about the health benefits of each one.
Make one big smoothie, or several small ones!
And don’t forget to encourage them and have fun!
Creating a positive, supportive environment around food for your child is the best thing you can do for them, however you choose to do it. Just like we believe in inspiring creativity, imagination and visual storytelling in children through our patterns and fabrics, we also believe the same can be done with food.
Good nutrition is absolutely crucial at all times, but even more during the formative years. It might not always be easy, but it’s important.
You’ve got this!