Talk, Touch, and Taste: More Ideas for Healthy Eating
My daughter used to subsist on cheddar bunnies and bananas. Since we began our experiment in healthy eating, she’s become a much better eater – a couple of days ago, she specifically asked my husband for a snack of raw almonds, aged gouda (“gooya”), and briny Kalamata olives. She ate it all.
So, clearly, some of our rules are working. But I wanted to write this post as an encouragement to the frustrated parents in the trenches. I know what it’s like to feel frazzled about her eating choices – we still have food drama, but it’s rare now. If you’re in need of fresh inspiration, here are some ideas to help you teach your child to love what he eats.
1. Stop snacking
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: stop snacking. If your kids aren’t hungry, they won’t eat dinner. We cut out all snacks, except one in the afternoon. If kids are snacking constantly, my other food ideas won’t be any help.
2. Talk about what you’re eating.
A friend recently asked me to make sure her 3 year old ate his sugar snap peas. He was not happy about this, so I took the pea out of his hand and asked him what color is was. Another boy became interested and moved over to listen. They told me it was green, so I asked them what else is green. We just talked about the sugar snap pea, what it looks like, how it grows, etc. so he knew what he was about to eat.
3. Invent silly food backstories.
The same little boy was more interested in his sugar snap pea after we talked about it, but in order to get him to take the plunge and eat it, I said, “You know what this looks like to me? Alien fingers!” He laughed and ate them.
My daughter doesn’t like salads, partially because they’re hard for her to eat, but also because they’re new, textured, and can be a little bitter. So, I came up with a salad based on what Peter Rabbit eats in one of her favorite books. She didn’t devour a plate of arugula or anything, but we’re are making progress.
4. Touch your food.
Kids are tactile learners. My daughter didn’t want to eat beets recently, so after she took her obligatory one bite, I just talked to her about beets. I pulled out a cut wedge and a whole, raw beet from the fridge for her to hold. We looked at the pretty color and she noticed how the cool, hard, round beet felt in her hand. She grabbed the root and asked me about it, so I talked to her about how plants get vitamins and water. And then she fed the beets to her stuffed animals and said she’d try beets again next time. It was a small victory.
Kids are by nature curious. Use that curiosity at meal time to your advantage.
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