Introduce new foods to your child to encourage healthy eating habits

It is important that your child gets the energy and nutrients he needs from the four major food groups, so it can be quite frustrating if your child is a picky eater or has some stubborn eating habits.

What happens when your kid takes a liking to not-so-nutritious “junk” food like chocolates or chips and refuses to eat anything else? It will take a lot of patience and effort for parents to encourage picky eaters, but persistence is key. Here are some ideas to help you motivate your child to eat healthy foods!

Take Your Kid Grocery Shopping to Encourage Healthy Eating

The supermarket is a great place to teach your child about healthy food and healthy eating habits. Bring your kid to the supermarket to learn about different food groups, fruits and vegetables and how they look like before they’re cooked.

Let your kid pick out a vegetable or a fruit that he finds interesting such as sweet potatoes, and let him help prepare the meal. For example, your kid could help wash the fruit and vegetables. Giving your child a bit of autonomy might encourage him to take a bite of the food he helped to put on the dining table.

Related: Grocery Shopping on a Shoestring Budget

Fewer Snacks During Snack Time

Letting the little one snack on a handful of dried fruit throughout the day might decrease his appetite when mealtime comes around. Have a meal and snack schedule and keep snacks low-calorie—try fruit slices or wholegrain crackers—so he has more appetite for proper, nutritious meals that are filled with vitamins and minerals.

Related: Healthy Snacks for Kids

Make Food Fun for Your Child to Eat

Kids are attracted to colour and interesting shapes, so why not make their meals as colourful and interesting as possible? Pique your child’s interest by using moulds and cutters in various shapes to bring an otherwise boring dish to life.

Related: Look What I Brought for Recess!

Introduce Variety in Small Ways

If your child only eats a certain food and refuses to eat healthy food, try slowly introducing new foods that are similar in taste, texture, and colour. For example, switch nugget brands to something with less breading and calories, then progress to introducing grilled chicken breast to the little one—first replacing just half a nugget with a similar-sized piece of chicken, then one nugget, then two... Take it slow and steady!

Related: Regaining a Healthy Balance for Your Child

Be Patient and Kind

Do not lose your temper, as anger is neither a productive nor healthy way to ensure that your child builds healthy eating habits or prevents picky eating. Encourage your child to take one bite first, and give praise if and when he does.

Don’t stop serving the food altogether just because your child has rejected it once. Try serving it a few more times, and then take it out of the menu for a week or two before serving it again. Your child may take more than 15 times to try something new.

Related: Eat Your Veggies

Set a Good Example

Don’t just tell your child. Show your child that other foods such as fruit and vegetables or fish are not only healthy but also delicious. Enjoying your greens or smiling after you take a bite of steamed fish, can go far in encouraging your child to eat the same food as you do.

You could even get the whole family in on the action. It’s not just Mummy and Daddy who love it; Grandma and Grandpa are really enjoying their meal too!

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References

  1. My Kids Are Such Picky Eaters: Is That Normal?. [Video] Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/food/video/video-fit-kids-picky-eaters-normal
  2. Karen Cicero and Damarys Ocaña Perez. 7 Proven Strategies for Picky Eaters. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.parents.com/recipes/nutrition/picky-eater-strategies/
  3. 3 Myths about Picky Eating. Retrieved November 2018 from https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/feeding/picky-eaters/the-picky-eater/