In many countries, like China and India for example, children regularly eat fruit, veggies and fish without complaint. In fact, these foods make up the majority of their daily meals. Yet, here at home we have a tough time getting our own kids to touch anything healthy. Not surprising when you consider that many of our tastes are conditioned starting at an early age.
Even before your little one is old enough to understand the many T.V. commercials designed to tempt him with the latest sugary treat, he will take his lead from guess who–YOU! This is why it’s so important to start healthy eating habits right from the beginning. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to tweak your own diet if it needs tweaking. If you’re going to insist your child eats his fruits and veggies (and you should!) make sure you set the good example by eating them as well.
It’s also important to be careful about transferring your own hang ups about certain foods to your child. I’ll give you my own example. I was recently at a wedding reception where butlered hors d’oeuvres were being served. Both my teens were standing nearby when the server offered me some smoked salmon on buttered bread topped with red onion. Smoked salmon, or Lox as it’s known in some circles, is not a favorite of mine so I declined. The kids looked at it and asked me what it was. My knee-jerk reaction was to wrinkle my nose and say "smoked fish" in a tone that would have clued them that I don’t like it, but luckily I caught myself. Instead, I simply responded, "It’s smoked salmon with some red onion on bread," without any indication of my own preference. They both grabbed a slice and popped it into their mouths. "How is it?" I asked them. Much to my surprise, both were nodding their heads and saying "Really good!" before going back for another piece.
I don’t know what they would have done if I had gone with my first instinct–maybe they wouldn’t have even tried it. Whatever the outcome, I’m glad I let them make up their own minds. Try to remember how much our kids watch what we say and do before making their own decisions. I’m including a link to a program designed by PBH and Welch’s–P.A.C.K. (Pack Assorted Colors for Kids). There are some great tips and resources designed specifically to aid you in getting your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.