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Posts Tagged ‘Picky Eaters’

Salad, Kiwi, Eyes, Play, Vegetables

Summer is full of fresh fruits and vegetables. They are on sale at the store, coming from our gardens, and filling the farmers markets.  This season is a great time to evaluate food choices in our lives and set goals for improvement. Evaluating what we are serving to our children is a worthwhile place to start.  As parents we want our children to eat a variety of healthy foods, but are often met with resistance when offering a food that is unfamiliar. Getting our kids to try new foods can be difficult and frustrating!   Here are some simple tips that can help you find success when offering new foods to your growing child:

Make sure you are offering a variety of foods on a regular basis.  This helps children become familiar with a variety of flavors and textures.

Try pairing a new food with one that is familiar.  For example, try scrambling a diced vegetable into eggs or offering a new fruit choice at breakfast as a pancake topping.

Involve your kids in planning new food choices.  Invite them to learn about the food, how it grows or how it is made.  Help them find a recipe and shop for it, then join them in the kitchen preparing the food.

Model a variety of good food choices yourself. You don’t have to be an adventurous eater, but you can display a positive attitude about trying new foods to your child.

When trying new foods ask your kids to describe the color, smell or texture instead of asking only of they like it.  This helps your child to pay more attention to just how it tastes, and focus on all aspects of the new food.

Let your children know they aren’t wrong if they don’t like it. There is no wrong or right answer when trying something new.  Be positive and reward their willingness to try new foods with words of encouragement.

Think about appearance when offering new foods.  A fun shape or presentation can be enticing.  For example, make a small kebob out of a new fruit, or cut vegetables into exciting shapes. Kids love to dip.  Try offering a dip alongside a vegetable to make eating it fun.  Hummus is a great suggestion and tastes great with a variety of raw vegetables while adding some protein to your snack.

Most importantly, be patient! It often takes repeated exposure to a new food for children to embrace it.  Continue to be encouraging and try, try again.

 

Written by: Alisha Barton,Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Miami County

Reviewed By: Misty Harmon, Ohio State University, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Perry County

Resources:

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers-picky-eating

https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/audiences/KitchenHelperActivities.pdf

https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/audiences/HealthyTipsforPickyEaters.pdf

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2016/08/22/new-myplate-resources-families

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There is a lot of talk about the importance of family meals. Your school age children may eat both breakfast and lunch in their school cafeteria. This is why it is important that the meals you eat with them are opportunities to teach healthy eating behaviors. Hopefully your children will carry these behaviors to the school lunchroom, and other settings. Listed below are meal-time tips you can use to encourage these healthy behaviors at home.

* Children are sponges! They learn from watching parents and older siblings. Try to eat as a family whenever you can. Include a good variety of foods, including vegetables. This is also a great time for conversations and practicing table manners.

* Enjoy a lunch date! Talk about school meals and what your children are eating. Try to understand why they make the choices they do. Have a breakfast or lunch date at school every few months. Not only will you see what is offered at the school meals, you will also see what your child is choosing.

* Learn what they like! Food preferences need to be respected and acknowledged. Teach young children to say “No, thank you” politely if they do not want any more after a taste. Make sure that the focus is on the great taste of the new foods you are trying. Even at a young age, many kids associate “good for you” with “tastes bad.”

*Experiment with new foods! Encourage kids to try one bite so they can expand their horizons. berries

* Don’t give up! Serve the foods your children previously resisted. It often takes several times of introducing a food before children eat and enjoy it.

* Try to resist the “forbidden foods” label! All foods can be part of a healthy diet.

* Encourage them in meal preparation! Let kids help fix items according to their age and skill level. Children are more willing to try foods, especially if they helped prepare them. Even young children can tear lettuce, rinse broccoli or even set the table. Let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try the next time they go to the store with you.

* Be a creative cook! Cut foods into interesting shapes and make the plate attractive.

Vegetable Train
* Name foods with cute names and offer finger foods, such as sliced fruit and vegetables. Kids like inviting foods just like adults do. Try raw vegetables with light dips. Serve broccoli trees or cauliflower clouds.

* Give your time! Make the meal or snack your sole focus. Conversation is good. TVs or other electronics should wait until the snack or meal is complete.

* Allow them time to eat! Try not to rush the children when they eat. Time pressure puts stress on eating and makes it less pleasurable.

* A child’s world is play! Make eating a fun time. Include discussions about colors, textures and flavors.

* Grow it yourself! If you have a garden or a few plants, include the children in planting and harvesting the produce. Children who participate in planting foods, or at least see where their foods come from are more likely to try them. Many schools now have gardens or container gardens. If your child’s school has a garden, talk to them about the foods they are growing. This is a great way for you to be involved with your child’s school!

These are just a few simple ways we’ve found to get kids to explore the world of healthy food. If they work for you, please share them with all your friends!

Source: Duyff, Roberta L. American Dietetic Association- Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 4th Edition, 2012.

Author: Liz Smith, Ohio State University Extension, Central Region SNAP-Ed, smith.3993@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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