My nephew, Jeff, with my sister, Heidi
When I go to my sister’s house for a visit and her boys are there, it never fails to impress me. They are both adult men now and eat healthy. They COOK….with vegetables! They’re not picky eaters! One of them even has his own vegetable garden. If I ever wanted to know the best possible result for children of a mom who happens to be a Registered Dietitian, the jury is in and it’s pretty impressive. I’m sorry to report that I never gave the kitchen a real try. I was mediocre at best and my son is not, shall we say, adventurous when it comes to his food choices. I’m hopeful that maturity over time, new friends, and a vegetarian wife will save him (hey, this is my blog, and I’ll create whatever fantasy I want to!). 😉
But don’t be like me. Don’t live on dreams and HEB’s saran wrap covered prepared meals section! Read my uber-ly wise sister Heidi’s list for how to prevent a picky eater by creating healthy habits at the table. Some of these are probably familiar, but I bet she has some advice that you haven’t tried that could make the difference between your child embracing raw carrots or counting french fries as a vegetable in their daily diet.
My nephew, Ryan, and me a couple years ago
7 Simple Tips to Help Picky Eaters
By Heidi Diller, RDN
It can be a daily struggle to keep the whole family eating well, especially with picky eaters in the house. Keep the whole gang happy with these fast and easy tricks to make every meal delicious and nutritious.
Don’t be a short order cook. Set the example.
Got picky eaters? Refrain from cooking different meals for family members. Sometimes children go through eating jags and they resist new foods. Cooking separate meals for family members gives them the message that it is okay not to eat healthy. So don’t be a short order cook, set the example by making one healthy meal for the entire family. Unfortunately, when children are only served food you think they will like, their world of food choices becomes very small. When children see their parents opting for nutritious foods like by taking second helpings of the veggies, they’re more likely to follow suit.
On days where you aren’t pressed for time, pull out the aprons and create a meal together. Studies show that kids who help with meal prep are healthier eaters overall and they are more likely to try new foods. Let them help pick the recipe for dinner and then give them a job, like measuring the spinach, chopping the walnuts or tearing the lettuce. Create a family legacy of health that will live on for generations by teaching them how to cook.
Make eating an adventure
Amp up the variety of nutrients — and the fun factor — by making meal time a flavor adventure. Set out by researching new cuisines that try into bedtime stories. Think back on how many children’s books revolve around food. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Stone Soup are just a few books that have food themes. A favorite in our house was sharing a hot, peach cobbler after reading the book, James and the Giant Peach.
Here’s a great way to improve your kids’ nutrition IQ: Read labels together. Turn grocery shopping into a challenge or a healthy-food scavenger hunt by letting them to find breads and cereals that contain over 5g of fiber per serving, yogurt with the lowest amount of sugar or snack foods that are low in sodium. It will take grocery shopping from chore to adventure.
Make breakfast count
So often in a hurry to get to school and work we miss out on the most important meal of the day–breakfast. Make breakfast count by serving easy to grab foods that are rich in fiber and protein. Both these nutrients can help keep the family fuller longer. Try this: Set up a yogurt bar with bowls of cut up fruit, chopped walnuts, shredded coconut and granola. Then when everyone is done, put a lid on the bowls and store in the fridge to be quickly served again the next day.
Snack your way to health
Often 25 percent of our daily nutrient intake comes in the form of snacks¹. For small children, this can be a very significant part of their daily intake so it’s important to choose snack foods wisely. The secret to healthy snacking is making snacks easy to find, quick to grab, and uncomplicated. A fruit bowl on the counter, cut up veggies (eye-level) in the refrigerator, whole grain crackers, string cheese, hummus, and deli guacamole with black bean chips are family favorites.
American researchers found that when vegetables are served with a small amount of dip, children are more likely to chow down—three times more often ². (And that includes those less-loved veggies, like broccoli and cauliflower.) Serve those raw veggies with hummus, ranch dip, guacamole, and black bean dip.
Remember, it doesn’t have to take more time or be complicated to keep the whole family eating well. By intentionally setting the tone of health in your home you’ll turn simple and fun activities into long-lasting, healthier meals and lifestyles for the whole family.
Sunrise Montessori Preschool has two locations in Round Rock. Interested in learning first hand what we can offer your child? Then book a tour on our website at Sunrise-Montessori.com or call us so you can discover why Sunrise Montessori Preschool is where YOUR family belongs!