August is Kids Eat Right Month and if you have a picky eater in your house, which can be the case with many children, that can be quite a challenge for many parents. For a lot of kids, the variety of colors and textures that come with healthy eating are viewed as taboo. In many situations, children become accustomed to a very few food selections they are comfortable with, and if given foods outside of this circle they are likely to reject them without even giving them a chance.
The best way around this problem is to introduce a variety of healthy foods to your child at an early age. Children who are familiar with an abundance of colors, textures and tastes are much more likely to try new things. If you do have a child who hasn’t been exposed to a variety of foods and has become set in his ways, don’t fret–there are strategies to getting him to expand his tastes for more healthy foods. In some cases, as children grow older, they naturally expand their tastes to include more fruit and vegetables. You can, however, step up this process with some creativity.
One easy way to get your child eating a wider variety of healthy foods is by involving them in the kitchen. When children are helping to prepare a meal, they are more likely to eat it. Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has the Top 10 Ways To Get Kids Involved In Healthy Cooking & Shopping, which are great ideas to get you started.
Healthy recipes that are geared toward kids are really key to getting your child to eat better. Fruits & Veggies–More Matters does a great job of making healthy eating fun for kids with these kid-friendly fruit and veggie recipes. A few of my favorites are Banana in a Blanket, which is simply placing a banana on a whole wheat torilla. Cover it with reduced-fat peanut butter, honey and nutty nugget cereal, then roll up.
Kids love pizza and kids love sweet fruit–put them together and you’ve got a treat they will be asking for over and over again! Symphony of Fruit Pizza uses toasted english muffins as its base. Strawberry cream cheese is spread on top and then strawberries, grapes and mandarin oranges are arranged on the cream cheese. It’s a delicious way for your kids to get their fruit servings.
Here is a terrific and simple idea I found on Pinterest. Fresh fruit and vegetables are arranged in the shape of Sesame Street characters and dip is provided. I love the one of Oscar the Grouch using broccoli flowerets and black olives for the mouth. Use some low-fat ranch dip for the veggies.
Finally, and this is the most important tip of all, in order to get your kids to eat healthy you must also display a good example. Remember, your children will imitate you! They are much more likely to eat their fruit and vegetables if they see you doing the same. Family meals are a wonderful way to get your children into the habit of eating well and one that will last them a lifetime.