Healthy Food For Children
How To Create Healthy Eaters
There was a time when being a healthy eater was a good term. Now when we hear it we begin to think that someone over eats, is chubby or fat. I would like to reintroduce the word but not as a pejorative. Instead let us think that those that eat and eat well are not going to be fat, they are going to be healthy and happy people. I know several children who are healthy eaters and are not over weight, they play, they eat healthy food, they are within their weight and height limits.
When we look at media everything is centered around non-fat items. We are encouraged to stay away from fat for not only ourselves but for children too. This goes against what we know our bodies need, especially the developing brains of children. The epidemic of staying away from fat comes from children who were given daily doses of fast food, which after observing we know does not digest easily or quickly, which was unhealthy. They were not encouraged to exercise but to drink soda products, sweet juices and food that only resembled food by name.
Now they entire nations talks of taking kids off any fat, try going into a store and finding yogurt which is full fat. For a child there is nothing wrong with giving them full fat yogurt. Kids need fat in their diet for a variety of reasons. This is not to say they should be given meals from every fast food place in town but that as their parent you can monitor the fat intake, make sure they receive healthy doses of a variety of foods and outdoor activities. So many are too concerned about the children's schedule and not about how to create healthy eaters. Instead of making sure they are involved in every activity possible make sure the kids are home for dinner. If you choose to have the children enlisted in a large number of activities then provide alternatives to driving through the golden arches, taco bell, burger king, etc. Bring something to their events which help them eat healthy and stay healthy for the future.
Food For Kids
Not knowing what to pick for your kids to eat initially can be troublesome. With kids having all kinds of allergies these days it is no wonder parents prefer to keep them on a go-gurt diet insead of experimenting with real foods.
Pediatricians recommend trying new foods as the children are young. This can be done one at at time so that if there is a reaction you will know what it was to instead of guessing. They advise that unless you specifically know of an allergy there is no reason not to try food. Peanut butter and honey are usually recommended after one just because children younger have a difficult time getting it down without gagging.
When beginning at a young age, if you are doing the cereal route, try one form then after about a week of adjusting add the other, etc. Developing a healthy educated pallet comes from exposure and patience later from the parent. When you are enjoying a nice meal, include the baby. Put a little of the broth, juices for the veggies, or a veggie stick for them to taste or chew on while you are preparing food. Getting a small blender will be a great thing. Just for small amounts of food for them to try. Most kids do not stay on mushy 'baby' food for long. Soon they begin eating more mature food. As they begin to taste and experience these different meals you prepare for yourself they will be exposed to more than just ultra plain peas,carrots and the like.
If you are eating out give them a small sample of food. Their pallet is developing this young and keeping them away from mature tastes will just create a picky eater a few years down the line. To avoid over doing the veggies and such after the morning bottle give the baby a half of a banana. Give them bread stick to chew on throughout the day. Then for the formal meals sit down and give them a little sample from what you have had during the day or the day before. The issue for very young children is the lack of teeth. If you child(ren) do not have teeth yet then the variety of foods and stiffness of the food might not be large at first, but keep using the blender, adding the broth or juices to food they are eating so that they get a new flavor to try.
If you go to a farmers market that is a great place for kids to try all kinds of foods. Most of the farmers have samples they can try. Also having small snacks from the food you have purchased is a nice way to enjoy the day.
Cutting grapes, apples, etc can ease the new eater into eating a variety of fruit. Cutting up small pieces of lunch meat will give them samples of meat they can eat. peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are great but a bit messy. Humus makes a great dip for kids and their veggies. Humus has fat and protein so it can serve two parts in one when enjoyed.
Do You Feed Your Kids Every Kind Of Food?
Picky VS. Asserting Power
As most kids grow and experience what they like and do not like be careful not to react to their assertion of power. At some point young children want to try out the word 'no'. They hear it often in variable volumes and they want to use the word as well. As toddlers they especially have little control over their life this is a time when the word comes out in rapid form.
When a child says no at the table it often results in a parent becoming panicked or angry about their child not eating something put in from of them. One parent will run and get the child's favorite food and give that instead for dinner and another parent will force the child to eat everything on their plate because the parent is offended the child is rejecting their food or angry the child said no. At with most times with young children it is important not to over react to anything they do. Staying calm and setting limits as well as making sure you child get the nutrients they need to continue to grow. First know that children, especially toddlers can go without eating. I am not suggestion starving or allowing a child to go without eating for days but as one pediatrician told me, young children have eating and non-eating days. So sometimes when they say 'no' at the table it is not because they want something else but they are just not in an eating mode that day.
For meal times, especially dinner as that is when 'no' is frequently used I suggest having a variety of food for the choosing. Especially when training your children to eat, it is important to make the experience comforting to them, not anxiety provoking. If you are giving them a new food, pair it with something you know they like. This way they can try the knew food but they know their known is there and not worries about not having any food they like.
As kids get a little older, around five they begin experimenting with choosing their own likes and dislikes. Just because your child has enjoyed pickles for the past four years and decides they do not want any now, cause they say they do not like them, does not mean stop giving them a pickle. Children will go back and forth with their likes an dislikes. Mostly just trying to figure out if they have the freedom to pick what they eat. Giving kids a little freedom allows them to know they have some say in what is happening in their lives. I am NOT saying to let the whole thing go and the two or five year old decide every night what they or the family eat. I am suggesting that if they say they would prefer a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to turkey sandwich, let them. Especially if they can choose healthy options for their snacks and lunches. Then for dinner you can say, well we are having this, for lunch you can choose more of what you want. Dinner is a difficult time, kids are tired, parents are exhausted from the days work or being home with the kids and not having a break. It is near the end for everyone. Keeping everyone calm will help dinner go by smoothly.
Never stop giving you kids the foods they once ate. They usually return but only if you continue to offer the food to them. A five year old who decides they no longer like meat is not necessarily choosing to be vegetarian they are just saying they want to explore other stuff right now. Keep offering them the meat and after some time they will return and say, wow, remember when I did not like meat! This can literally happen withing a few weeks to a couple of months. Too often parents have a child choose not to eat something and the parent completely change the diet for the child not knowing that the child is just experimenting with their food and options.
- Keep meal times fun
- Allow Kids to have some power over healthy choices
- include kids in prep work for dinner
- Add new foods while keeping some favorites around for security
- Do not panic when your child chooses not to eat
Making Food Fun For Toddlers
People become afraid their toddlers with not eat any food. Often you will hear how toddlers will only eat yogurt for dinner. This does not have to be a reality. Children, including toddlers can enjoy eating a variety of food. Making food fun for toddlers can help with them maintaining a good eating habit.
As mentioned earlier a wonderful way to spend time with the family is to visit farmers markets either during the week or weekend. Farmers markets have lots of foods that children can try for free. This is a cool thing because most of the time when we take children shopping you are saying 'no' we cannot take that, 'no' do not touch that, etc. At the farmers market they can go and grab food they they they will like. You can take it home and help them prepare it and try the foods in a variety of ways. For instance, broccoli does not have to be smothered in cheese for a toddler to eat it. Take it home. Offer some humus, or other dip they may like. You could have a dipping sampler for an afternoon or evening. If you watch sports, football Sunday is an excellent time to do this. Children will enjoy the festive mood, they are taught that they can heat healthy while enjoying the game but still enjoy some naughty snacks later. You can also steam the broccoli. Do not make it plain, but instead of adding cheese, try adding some seasoning. I have to agree with toddlers, there is nothing so appealing about a plain steamed or mushed up piece of vegetables. Have your toddler help you steam the veggie. Have them add the water to the pot, the steamer, etc. As what seasoning they thing will go good, of course give them choices but not the entire spice cabinet. Explain that we are all trying to see if we like it, no stress, no hard expectations, it is like an experiment. There are toddlers that will eat veggies steamed in seasons, onions, garlic etc. Try everything. Make it FUN.
There are several books out there that have a variety of ways to make dinner look funny. Some people are also creative and can make pancakes with cool faces or add fruit to be the color of a super hero. For those of us that need a little inspiration there are books and the internet. Oranges can be make into elephants, broccoli into trees with small apples on them, etc. Find a way to have them guess what has been made. This becomes the focus and not the fact they are trying a new veggie or fruit or not having the sugary snack they really want.
Toddlers are not too young to cook with in the kitchen. They can be given small tasks and this gives them some control over the whole eating experience. Have them fill pots with water, water is always fun for toddlers. Have them stir things together, when cooked food needs to be transferred to a serving dish have them help. Include them in the process and they can take some ownership over what they are being given at the table.