ďI tell kids they should throw away the cereal and eat the box. At least they'd get some fiber.Ē -Richard Holstein, D.D.S-
The latest obsession among moms lately has nothing to do with mom, per se, but focuses on what moms can do to trick their children into eating foods that are actually good for them. This is a good thing since so many children are consuming foods that are heavily processed and light on nutritional value. And, since summer is when most of us start craving juicy, fresh fruits and veggies, now is a great time to experiment with some fun, healthful food tips for you and your family:
Tip #1 - Start early: Instilling healthy habits early on really does help lay the foundation for the future. Take my friendís toddler for instance. Since he turned one-year-old, he has always eaten the same healthy foods that his parents eatóhe didnít have a choice! Unlike many of us, his mom and dad never made a separate meal just for him and now he eats pretty much anything!
Tip #2 - Make it colorful: Try to ensure that your childís plate is not monochromatic. Fill it up with as many colors from the rainbow as possible.
Tip #3 - Go for frozen or fresh: Opt for frozen or fresh produce over canned varieties. Frozen fruits and veggies may actually be more nutritious than their fresh food rivals. This is because, over time, fresh produce can lose important nutrients while frozen produce is usually picked at peak times.
Tip #4 - Make it silly: Try building a leaning tower of Pisa out of banana slices or making a happy face out of some baked chicken. Your kids will love devouring its parts!
Tip #5 - Limit snacks: Children normally require two or so snacks during the day to get them through to the next meal. Just try to make them small-portioned, light snacks like popcorn or grapes. They need foods that wonít stay with them for too long and ruin their appetite at meal times.
Tip #6 - Out of sight out of mind: Store junk foods away in the pantry and on the top shelf, out of an easy armís reach. Research has shown that the closer you are to a food, and the more visible it is, the more likely you are to eat it.
Tip #7 - Reach for a book: There are a couple of great books on the market for hiding those not-so-popular veggies inside kids' favorites like brownies and Mac-n-cheese. Although many of these recipes require a good amount of prep time, it may be well worth it in the end.
Tip #8 - Donít obsess: Last but not least, donít become overly obsessive about the dietary habits of your kids, especially the young ones. Let them eat what they will, within reason of course, and chances are they will soon become more open to trying foods that are not shaped like dinosaurs.
Hopefully your children will start out appreciating the healthfulness offered by lean meats, crisp vegetables, and sweet fruits. If not, it is likely they will, at some point, trade in their bowl of cocoa puffs for some granola. Some children just need a little more coaxing than others.
P.S.S. (Parent Sanity Saver): If your child is a real fussy eater, he or she will likely benefit from a once daily multivitamin. Just make sure you store them way out of reach since most of them taste almost as good as candy.
About the Author:
Tara Kompare, Pharm.D. is a doctor of pharmacy and mother of two amazing little girls. Her book, The Colic Chronicles (Da Capo Lifelong) is scheduled for release in Summer 2008. You can visit her website at www.themedicinemom.com. She encourages reader feedback and questions.