Having trouble trying to get your six-year-old to eat healthy food? Do your players prefer to merely eat chicken nuggets after soccer practice? Then you might have a picky eater on your hands.
It is no secret that children need the right nutrients to fuel and nurture their bodies. Therefore, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends having food from five major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein. But how can you get your little star to eat the necessary amount of nutrients? Read on to learn how.
Allow your children to participate
A great way to get your kids excited about eating is by allowing them to partake in choosing food and cooking, if they’re old enough. Have them help you grow your own fruits and veggies, or take them to a farmer’s market to explore all the different types of produce.
Allow them to choose what they want in their smoothie and suggest adding a “superfood,” such as kale. Also, letting kids choose from different healthy meals for dinner – rather than choosing one for them – can help increase the likelihood of them having a nutritious meal while allowing them to eat what they want.
Make mealtimes fun for you and your family in order to associate eating with a good time. You can make food more appealing for your picky eater by using fun shapes or sizes, adding colorful foods, giving food silly names, or using dipping sauces.
Try to encourage, not criticize
We know it must be frustrating if your child is not eating enough or eating right, but it is best to approach this by being neutral. Try not to comment too much on your child’s eating habits or force him or her to eat.
Also, as a way to prevent overeating, try not to force kids to eat everything that has been served to them. Most kids will realize if they are full or still hungry, so be sure to listen.
Food should not be a reward
Most kids grow up thinking they can earn a cookie if they complete a task or homework, but you should discourage food, especially sweets, as being a reward. It is OK for your child to have the occasional sweet, but don’t focus on dessert as the reason for finishing dinner.
Teach by showing
As their ultimate role models, parents can teach their kids healthy eating habits by being positive examples. Try to eliminate practicing fad diets, and encourage healthy eating by eating nutritious foods yourself.