Q: I love to cook and really wish my kids would eat better, but it seems they turn up their noses at so many things. Do you have any ideas on how to get them to try something new?
A: I love to cook, too! I got my own children to eat better by getting them involved in the food preparation process and providing them with opportunities to try new foods. Children may need to try a bit of a new veggie or fruit several times before they will decide they like it so don’t give up.
I started exposing my children to a variety of foods early. When they were babies, I made my own baby food using a variety of fruits and vegetables to expose them a wider variety of flavors. When they were at that picky stage – I think all children go through it – I always made sure they had fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal. You can have them always do “a no thank you bite” and remind your child that this time they may enjoy the dish.
While I always had them try new foods, I would limit their favorites, such as chicken nuggets, to no more than twice a week.
Now that my children are older, I get them involved in the food preparation process. It starts outside in our family garden. Kids really love working in the garden and get a kick from eating something they have grown. You can start small with some bean seeds and then move into some other vegetables they like. It’s almost berry picking season and you can head out to a pick-your-own berry farm and fill a basket with strawberries, blueberries or raspberries.
I have also put my children to work in the kitchen too where they can help with meal preparation – again they seem more interested in eating food they played a role in putting together. Not only are they learning about healthy eating, they are learning important life skills, such as how to put meals together and clean up afterwards. And my future daughter-in-laws are going to thank me!”
Today’s expert is Jennifer Hunt, MD, a pediatrician at ThedaCare Physicians-Pediatrics in Appleton.