via Sara Tipton:
Many kids seem to be overly picky, eating only one or two different foods, or they just simply refuse to try new foods. It can often be trying to attempt to get the right amount of nutrients in your child if you’ve got one of these picky eaters, but we’ve gathered a few tips and tricks to help you build up a strong nutritional foundation.
Let’s face the facts, if your child only eats macaroni and cheese from a box, they aren’t getting the proper nutrients their growing body and brain needs to keep them healthy in the long run. Most parents know the value of proper nutrition but struggle to follow through. But making fun food projects is one way to add at least a nutritional snack once in a while. Try cutting broccoli into “paintbrushes” and letting your child paint their own tortilla with hummus, organic ranch dressing, or even oil and vinegar. Not only will they be able to eat their art, and their utensil, they ‘ll have a blast doing it. A bonus tip is to try cutting up red peppers or carrots into fun shapes that the kids can stick onto the tortilla. You could even give them some nuts. Organic nut butters, such as almond, are great to use as “glue.” Everything you use should be healthy and edible and this will not only be a fun art project, but it will allow your child to combine different healthy and flavorful foods that they just might be willing to try to eat!
Another tip is to start a garden of any kind. Children are curious, but they also love to eat what they grow. My kids will pick serviceberries (also known as Juneberries, wild sugarplums or saskatoons) to snack on all day and even though they are not the sweetest of berries, with a flavor and look similar to the blueberry, but the kids love them simply because they can get to them on their own! Consider planting berries that your children can pick. Kids also like gardening. They are naturally curious and explaining where their food comes from has the added benefit of staying with them for years to come, and they are more likely to pass on their gardening knowledge to their children. In fact, a recent study found that kids who had gardens at their childhood home or school ate more healthy foods such as vegetables and were more likely to garden themselves when they left for college. Good eating habits start at home, and it’s never too late to work with your kids!
If you are having trouble getting your child interested in vegetable art projects or gardening, don’t fret just yet! American children are surrounded by “food-like products” that are laden with fat, sugar, and artificial ingredients. Not only do these “foods” often taste better, they are less expensive than vegetables and fruits. But there’s always a starting point and way to get back on track so your child will be healthy and make better food decisions in a world of chemically laced additives. There are actually a few vegetables that may be a little more palatable to a child, even a more picky one. Sweet snap peas, for example, are usually universally loved by children. They have a mild sweetness to them but pack a nutritional punch. Carrots also tend toward the sweeter side and can be really fun for kids to pick! Another great vegetable that most kids seem to enjoy is cherry tomatoes. These little treats are great snacks and not only healthy but taste great.
Kids may not gravitate naturally toward vegetables, but when they are responsible for growing them and harvesting them from their own gardens, they are much more likely to taste their efforts! So consider growing some of the “sweeter” vegetables as a launch point! Once you win kids over with a few known favorites, you can sneak in the less sugary veggies and open them up to a lifetime of flavorful, healthy choices.
If you are concerned about space you can try indoor gardening activities too! Let kids grow some bunching onions (sometimes known as scallions or green onions in mason jars right on your kitchen counter! Just save the white part of the onion with the roots. Add the white part of the onion roots down to a mason jar with enough water to cover it. In a few weeks, you can eat the sprouted green parts. Of course, this won’t go on forever, eventually, the onions will stop growing, but then, simply start the experiment all over! Kids might be more interested in trying vegetables, even onions if they watch them grow and help keep them alive.
Kids will emulate their parents. A healthy way of life starts early and will serve as lessons that can help as children age. Eating a wide variety of healthy foods will help keep kids from developing diseases such as obesity as they grow into adults.