Nicole Palmieri, who is currently studying Dietetics at the University of Dayton, shared with Healthy Lombard that…
It is well-known for children to dislike vegetables. Even though they are nutritious and beneficial for our health, they can taste bitter and less satiating to kids. This being so, there are numerous ways to make healthy eating more appealing to your children!
Evaluate their plate
First, look at how the food is being presented to your child. Is the food cooked? Is it paired with a dipping sauce, or plain on its own? Is it just one vegetable that is rejected, or multiple? To find solutions, experiment with how the food is chosen, cooked, and presented. There is a rich and wide variety of vegetables to select from at the grocery store to diversify what your child consumes. You could make a goal to have them try a new vegetable every week, observe if they like one more than the other, and then start to repeat the ones they do like into their diet.
Another aspect to make healthy foods appealing to kids is to consider how it is plated and served. Raw broccoli might not go over well with them, but roasted broccoli that is charred and more flavorful could be better received. Another idea could be steaming the broccoli and pairing it with a cheese sauce to get a serving of dairy in, too! With most foods, there is much flexibility and versatility for preparing them in a way that is enjoyable for the eater. Additionally, serving a platter of raw vegetables or fruit may not encourage kids to eat them, but presenting them in different ways could be more motivating. For example, “ants on a log” is a popular snack because it is nutritious, entertaining, and delicious! To make, cut up stalks of celery to bite-sized pieces, add peanut butter to the crevices, and top it off with the “ants,” which are raisins! Another idea is to make a friendly face on a serving of pancakes by using fruit such as banana, strawberries, and orange slices!
Aim to achieve balance
Having kids eat a bowl of buttered noodles with a side of bread and butter can be easy because they love the taste of it, but every meal is an opportunity to include each food group on their plate. MyPlate is a great depiction per the USDA’s recommendations for nutrition. It is a guide to include fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy on your plate. A bowl of pasta with buttered noodles could use some vegetables or protein added to it, such as shredded spinach and grilled chicken mixed into the pasta. Aiming to achieve a well-balanced meal can help kids get more used to seeing fruits and vegetables at the table, versus being forced to eat them on rare occurrences.
Let them focus solely on the food
Whether it is taking the consideration of kids or adults into account, distracted eating encourages overeating, improper digestion, and feeling unsatisfied with our meals. Sometimes distractions are necessary to get children to eat enough, but it is not a helpful long-term solution. Removing distractions and focusing solely on the food they are eating allows for mindful eating. Mindful eating makes them pay attention to the textures, smells, colors, and flavors that come with each bite of their meal. Kids are also more likely to remember the foods they mindfully ate the next time they are eating them, especially if they enjoyed them.
I hope these solutions prove successful with your kids to make healthy eating more appealing for them!