• From One Mother to Another: Nutrition Kids Enjoy

    Thursday, April 11th, 2024

    by Lisa Young, Nutritional Counselor

    Discovering nutrition kids enjoy may seem like a difficult task, but it can be done. When parents make the effort to give their children more nutritious meals, the result is a healthier and happier family.

    proper-nutrition-for-kidsThese days, many households have parents who work all day, and thus may not have the time to make sure their children are eating properly. Moreover, too often children associate enjoyable eating with high-calorie treats like cake and ice cream. Reducing the amount of refined sugar kids eat should be every parent’s priority.

    There are steps parents can take to make nutritional eating fun, enjoyable and healthy for their children. When kids enjoy eating, it’s a lot easier to get them to consume nutritionally-balanced foods that are good for them. It’s indeed possible for kids and nutrition to go together!

    For example, various kinds of sauces are tasty and enticing to young kids. Most young children will eat almost anything if you cover it in their favorite sauce or gravy.

    One nutritional mistake parents make is promising their kids cake or ice cream if they eat their vegetables. The problem with this approach is that it reinforces how good dessert tastes in comparison to vegetables.

    How to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables

    If you are struggling to get your kids to eat their vegetables, try serving them with gravy on top and see how your children react. Kids can gradually learn to like eating vegetables this way.

    Instead of a reward system for kids’ nutrition, there are other approaches that work better. One such method is not letting your kids eat anything before dinner. If they do become hungry and need a healthy snack, then give them some carrot or celery sticks, but nothing sweet that will spoil their appetite.

    Offer your children a tray of raw vegetables with a tasty dressing to dip them in and see what happens. Many kids who won’t normally eat cooked vegetables will eat them raw if they can dip the veggies in something delicious like ranch dressing.

    If your children still won’t eat their vegetables, you can try hiding them in other foods. For example, grate some mushrooms, carrots and zucchini and mix them into hamburger patties. Your kids won’t even know they are eating vegetables with their hamburger!

    Liver is a high-nutrition food, but it’s difficult to get kids to eat it. But if you cook the liver with onions and then serve it with sauce or gravy, your child might actually enjoy it. Liver contains a variety of key nutrients for growing bodies.

    Getting Kids to Enjoy Nutrition

    Children will naturally develop preferences for the foods they enjoy, so it’s important for parents to try to make healthy food choices as appealing as possible. With a little effort you can make sure your children eat a nutritious and wholesome diet, while still allowing them to have some of their favorite treats.

    Kids will copy their parents’ behavior, so it’s important that you be a good nutritional role model. Don’t expect your child to eat their vegetables while you are snacking on cookies and potato chips.

    Here are some tips to promote healthy nutritional habits in your children:

    • Eat together as a family. Serve dinner at approximately the same time every night and make sure the entire family sits down together. Breakfast should also be eaten together as a family meal, especially since children who eat breakfast have been shown to do better in school.
    • Prepare most of your meals at home. Eating home-cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and teaches children about the importance of food. Meals served in restaurants tend to be less healthy than those cooked at home. Try to eat out only on special occasions.
    • Get your kids involved in the process of healthy eating. Kids enjoy helping their parents shop for groceries and prepare meals. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about the nutritional values of different foods, and how to read food labels.
    • Keep a variety of healthy snacks on hand, rather than “empty calorie” snacks. For example, if fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages are easily accessible, kids will become used to reaching for these healthy alternatives instead of empty calorie snacks like cookies, potato chips and soda pop.
    • Practice portion control by limiting portion sizes. Never use food as a reward or bribe, and don’t force your child to eat everything on his or her plate. The “Clean Plate Club” is not a healthy habit for kids to get into!

    At the end of the day, finding proper nutrition kids enjoy requires preparation and creative thinking. For example, delicious sauces can make many foods more palatable to kids. Disguising vegetables inside other foods is also a good way to give your kids better nutrition. Fun nutrition games are also effective and educational.

    Healthy snacks for kids without refined sugar won’t spoil their appetite for dinner. It’s worth the extra effort to give your children healthy and nutritious food they can enjoy.

    (published July 23, 2011)