Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Eating by Example

When you are a parent, even the smallest milestones make you jump for joy. My most recent jubilation came this past Sunday night; my 2-year-old son ate an entire piece of raw broccoli. What was even more amazing was that I did not even offer it to him. He just took it off of my salad plate and in his mouth it went. I told him that I was so very proud of him and gave him a big hug.

My daughter sat their staring at me wondering why I didn’t give her the same hug, but she has always been a great vegetable connoisseur. I do try to tell her on a regular basis however that I am so happy that she enjoys nutritious food.

My son, on the other hand, has been a bit pickier about his food choices. I was beginning to think that I had done something differently in raising this child since anything green usually hit the floor. I had resorted to “hiding” vegetables in his food. And since I discovered that he is very fond of “salads,” which I am sure is mostly due to the fact there is some kind of dressing masking the taste, I started sharing my salads with him on a regular basis, and he was none the wiser of me including bell peppers and onions in his bites. I also make a chopped broccoli salad quite often that includes many of his other favorites like Craisins, cheese and nuts. And the last few times we have had asparagus, I asked him if he wanted to eat a little tree, and he replied, “Roarrrrr. I eat like a dinosaur.” He did take a couple bites. And carrots and sweet potatoes have also become a few of his more recent favorites.

While these new eating habits did not occur overnight, I am now a true believer that we must show our kids how to eat properly by example. A dose of patience also goes a long way. Now that I feel that I have a true success story, here are a few of my tips to help you steer your kids to eating a larger variety of nutritious foods:

1 – Do not get into the habit of cooking your kids separate meals, especially at dinner time. It’s hard on you and sets your kids up to think they can always eat exactly what they want. And make sure to put a little of everything on their plates.

2 – Do not force your kids to try something new, but bribery works pretty well. Tell your kids they can eat something you know they like if they try what is on their plate. I always try to hold back the bread until after they have eaten an ample supply of veggies.

3 – Dramatize! It may sound silly, but if you make a big deal about how good the vegetables are, they might eventually want try it on their own to satisfy their curiosity.

4 – Get your kids involved in selecting things at the grocery or market. My daughter loves getting her own grocery cart and filling it with all of the fruits and vegetables, especially if she knows she will be eating it later. She is also pretty good at selecting the produce on her own. Nothing makes her more proud then to hear another customer compliment her on her choices. To get my toddler son involved, I make sure to have a conversation with him about all of the different things we buy.

One of the biggest failures I have seen with parents/caregivers is that they think kids won’t like certain foods because they are kids. I have also seen parents/caregivers give up too easily and resort to not-so-healthy choices so the kids have something to eat. But be persistent. If they see you eating and enjoying healthy food choices and also providing good choices, maybe they will learn to love good food as well.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips! I follow similar guidelines with my kids and have pretty good success. We eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables...depending on what is available in our little grocery store. My kids have learned to love mangoes. They love cucumbers. Now if only I could get my husband on board. :)


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