Feeding children can be like riding a rollercoaster. Some days they just eat whatever you give them. Other days it’s like a terror, as it can be close to impossible to get them to eat anything at all, especially vegetables. Children can become picky eaters for a number of reasons. Some children are simply more sensitive to taste, smell and texture. Although, children generally have a more heighten sense of taste, as their taste buds haven’t been affected with prolonged intake of salt, sugar, caffeine and other substances. Children may also develop picky eating habits by modelling their parents, siblings or peers. So how do we encourage children to eat a variety of food, especially vegetables?
Studies have found that picky eating habits are more likely to develop when parents punish, bribe or reward their children’s eating behaviours.
Grow food with your child/ren
Research tells us something many mothers already know, that when children are involved in growing, preparing and cooking their own food they are more likely to eat it.
Kids that grow greens, eat greens.
When young children learn to take care of growing plants they develop a natural sense of curiosity. Children naturally experience the world through tasting, touching, smelling and feeling.
Growing your own food with your child/ren is an extremely rewarding and satisfying activity. Gardening together strengthens the bond between you and your child as well as your connection to our beautiful Earth. You might be pleasantly surprised to find your little one munching on some snow peas or cherry tomatoes.
Teach your child to love and appreciate nature through gardening.
Now let’s have a quick chat about sugar. Eating too much sugar can lead to all sorts of problems in later life such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, did you know that sugar also lowers your immune system? So every time our children are eating sugar, their immune systems are getting affected which makes them more prone to catching colds and other common infections.
However, if you don’t allow you child to taste sugar at all throughout their childhood the chances of them becoming highly “addicted“ to it throughout their teenage years is much greater. Teenagers tastebuds have a greater affinity to sweet things. So the trick is to find a happy medium.
All sugary foods can be “sometimes foods”, thats why we call them “treats” as they should be consumed only sometimes. In my experience reducing the amount of sugar intake encourages children to start eating more vegetables as their tastebuds become more sensitive to the natural sweetness in vegetables.
If possible avoid giving children any sugar until the age of three.
Let’s not forget the importance of protein. Protein is crucial for a child’s physical, mental and emotional development. Without it, children’s growth can become stunted and experience learning difficulties. Now I’m not going to say start eating meat but if you are vegetarian or vegan it does require extra planning and cooking to make sure your child is eating the recommended daily intake or protein. My son is vegetarian by choice and we are constantly coming up with new ideas. There are many great cookbooks out there to help plan meals.
Growing your own vegetables also means you have fresh organic produce to pick for your child’s lunchbox. Child fun foods include growing snow peas, green peas, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce and so much more, which can all be use as an easy and healthy lunch snack. In Pete Evans lunchbox book, he suggests a simple formula to prepare a healthy lunchbox that will help our kids thrive at school.
Simple lunchbox formula = one serve of season fruit + raw or cooked season vegetable + serve of protein and fat
Tell me how you go. If you like the article please share.
Stay tuned for our Rainbow Eating challenge 😉