Healthy eating. It can be tough for most of us adults to stick to a well-rounded, nutritious diet day to day. With kids it can be a nightmare trying to get them to eat well during the best of times. It can be especially tough now that so much advertising of sugary foods is directly advertised to children.
So what is a parent or caregiver to do when a child doesn’t want to eat something healthy? I went to the experts at NYHFB – Moms, Dads, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents and Caregivers for their top tips!
Here are some ideas from the North York Harvest team on how to get a child to enjoy nutritious foods.
Just give it to them. Exposure is key and if they see you eating healthy they will probably eat healthy too. – Kadian, Fundraising Assistant
Cook it, don’t offer alternate meals like a caterer. Expose them to many different healthy options. – Maria, Donor Relations
Make a “kids pasta sauce” with pureed vegetables and strained tomatoes. – Alberto, Corporate Food Donations Lead
When in doubt – hide it! I make muffins with carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, blueberries, apple etc. and I tell the kids I made cupcakes! I also sneak in sour cream, eggs and nut butters to add protein;-) – Shirah, Corporate Relationship Manager
For parents, be good role models, give reasonable food options (don’t be short order cooks), trust their stomach, its theirs (kids’ won’t starve themselves for long), involve kids in all parts of food prep starting from gardening to shopping to food prep to cooking where possible. If you fail, try, try, try again! – Irene, Registered Dietician, Evaluation Coordinator
Deal with picky eaters through buffet style meals (prepare ingredients for kids to make their own owl sandwich as example) – Jane, Receptionist
My younger son was a picky eater when he was young. We varied his diet as much as he would allow but as parents we tried not to obsess about his diet. He is now 35 years old and a great cook! I think that not obsessing about our son’s diet helped all of us…. but at times, it wasn’t easy. – Lisa, Volunteer Manager
I always just put the fruit and vegetables in the kids’ lunches with no choice in the matter. Now though, they favour a lot of fruit and hard vegetables as they have found that cucumbers don’t travel well. The girls also have containers for dips for their veggies. Another way that we got the girls to eat vegetables is with vegetable filling in canellonis, empanadas and in the sauce on gnocchi. – Leslie, Development Assistant
Grow food and have then pick it- my daughter eats peas and tomatoes because she used to love picking them. Also, keep things simple – kids often like to see and recognize the individual food items rather than having them all mixed up in a confusing mess. And be flexible in how they get their nutrition – if they like to eat plain tofu but you don’t, set aside some tofu for them before adding it to your stir fry. – Rowena, Director of Food Distribution
Smoothies are a fun, healthy and filling option to any meal. – Tammy, Assistant Forklift Instructor
I found that they would not eat healthy if I had pushed them. But then they started seeing how much energy I have to be able to work and go for a run afterwards, I said it was because of the way I eat and how what you eat affects your body. They have started eating the same way and are really seeing a difference. – Harold, Manager of Food Distribution
Involve kids in the simple decision making concerning food, ask them what they want for dinner. If they prepare it, they are more likely to eat it. et play dates involve snack or meal prep/ food activity (bake cookies, make smoothies, mix drinks) – Ella, Manager, Lawrence Heights Community Food Space
Use fun shaped and colorful utensils and dishes to prepare and serve food. – May, Accounting