5 tricks for your children to eat better

5 tricks for your children to eat better

Table of Contents

  • 1 The keys to converting your children’s diet into a healthy diet
    • 1.1 Make a whole game
    • 1.2 Get them involved in the kitchen
    • 1.3 Do not forbid them
    • 1.4 Change your preparations
    • 1.5 Set an example

The keys to turning your children’s diet into a healthy diet

Make a whole game

Surely you’ve heard that “children are children” but it is that simple. To improve their diet you need to put yourself in their shoes, think like a child, live like a child, feel like a child. And the children there is nothing that they like more than to play. So it’s up to you to get your imagination afloat and find a game for each habit or change you want to achieve. Obviously, depending on the child, they will like one or another activity more and since we are the one who has to invent it, let’s do it by personalizing it a little. So that you understand me and have a general idea, I am going to give you an example. Imagine that our goal is for our son to eat 3 pieces of fruit a day. Let’s see what games we can come up with:

  1. The supermarket detective . This game was not invented by me, but I have used it and it is really useful, it is also very entertaining and they like it a lot. It is about doing detectives at the time of purchase. The game consists of not adding to the shopping cart any product that has more than 10 grams of sugar or 1 gram of salt or 20 grams of fat. For this, our children will have to act as detectives and find out what to add to the cart. Of course we must let them know that the fruit meets all the requirements to be added.
    What will we achieve with this game? Awareness that many of the products they were consuming were unhealthy, substituting them for fruits (we are achieving our goal!) And nutritional education, learning to interpret labels.
  2. Mission accomplished. This depends on each one and how they want to raise it, but the idea is that they have a calendar where they can write down if they have achieved the daily goal and a reward (if it is not related to food). And as I said before, it depends on each one if they want to give a daily, weekly or monthly reward and “the size” of the reward. For example: if you get 25 missions this month, we will go on a hike to the mountains or a weekend in the snow, or you can invite your friend to sleep or … It can also be done daily: if you get today’s mission, you can go to sleep 15 minutes later or you will have 10 more minutes of TV or we will paint our nails together … Always something that is easy to achieve and that the rewards like and motivate them to do it. The best,
  3. The blind taster . When you are familiar with more than one fruit, you can play the taster blind. It is simply a matter of blindfolding them and giving them a piece of a fruit so that they can guess which one it is. You can mark 3 different ones and guessing 1 will be enough. The grace is that they can do it later, to you or also to their brothers … and have a fun time eating different fruits. It can be an ideal time to add new flavors and fruits that you still do not know or have not dared to try. You would be surprised to see how they discover new flavors that they did not know they liked … (and all to  see it peeled).

Get them involved in the kitchen

In the same way that we have to make a whole game of them, we have to “turn” them into little chefs. If we let them participate in the preparation of the dishes, we will encourage them to try new preparations and foods simply because they will know what they are carrying (and what they are eating) and because they have made it. At this point, the precautions and the safety of the child must be extreme, never leave them with the fire or the knives alone or use according to which electrical appliances. The simplest thing is that they help us with cold preparations, or have the cooked food that we need ready, such as boiled rice.

In my case I tried it with the eldest Quim and with the lentils, you can see it in this Instagram photo . Despite being a fan of chickpeas, lentils weren’t his strong suit. So one day I put on her an apron and a chef’s hat (the props help and motivate a lot) and we got down to work. The recipe was simple, a garlic, onion and tomato sauce, add the previously cooked lentils, the chicken broth and the rice, let it cook and serve. Well, he put the vegetables in the pot, added the lentils, the rice and the broth. The result was very positive, the dish was not finished but it only left a couple of tablespoons.

Do not forbid them

If there is something that a child wants to do, it is what you tell him not to do. Ban awakens desire so let’s allow. The child has to know that there are healthy and unhealthy foods (no matter how much they want to sell us otherwise) and that the healthy ones are the ones we should consume every day and the unhealthy ones the ones we eat on special occasions. Sometimes we think that children do not understand why they are children, but they understand and know more than we think. So, I recommend that from the first moment, at 6 months when we begin to introduce food (apart from breastfeeding, maternal or artificial) you do so with healthy foods. I also recommend that you practice BLW (Baby Led Weaning), but that is already a more personal decision. If from the first moment his environment is fruits, vegetables, vegetables … in short, food , he will become familiar with them and, when at the age of five or six you plant a broccoli stir fry on the table, it will not make him disgusted. I want to clarify here, that just like us there are vegetables that we are not passionate about, such as cauliflower or some Brussels sprouts, they can also have aversions and preferences and we must respect them. That is, if we have tried 20 times to give him green beans and he does not eat them, it means that he does not like their taste, so no matter how much we insist he will not eat them and obviously he will continue to reject them at five and six years of age. But beware! that nothing happens, it will  compensate  those beans with the rest of the vegetables.

It is also true, and I recommend that you delay as much as possible the introduction of superfluous foods loaded with sugar, salt, refined fats and refined flours such as hookahs, French fries, donuts, cookies, pastries … The recommendation for these is not to give them a minimum until they are one year old but the longer you take the better.

If it is already late, that is to say that with 6 months you did not eat his diet as I suggest and now he is seven or eight years old and does not eat healthy, do not worry. There is also a solution, and it is not forbidding them overnight to eat the unhealthy products that they are used to eating. You must improve your diet  step by step with patience (a lot, a lot of patience) and for example, following the advice that I tell you in this post.

Before I was talking about games, because to know if you are on the right track, I propose this test. You have to show the image to the kids, and ask them to recognize the brands and foods, to see which one they know the most. If you recognize all the fruits, congratulations! On the other hand, if they name all the logos from 1 to 6… You have work to do.

Change your preparations

Before I told you, if we put the same dish 20 times on a child and he does not eat it, he probably does not like that food. But before you throw in the towel, try cooking it differently. Imagine some cooked green beans, on a plate with nothing else. And now imagine some green beans, with a sofritito of onion and some dices of ham. What would you eat first? It is easier to eat something that we do not like or that perhaps we like little if it is more elaborate, with a good presentation in a beautiful dish … It is convenient to offer them attractive and above all tasty dishes, and to know how to “hide” the bitter taste of some vegetables so that they are better tolerated. Bitter can be hidden in two ways, although the sensitivity to it depends on each person.

The first route consists of the action of sodium salts (common salt, for example). This does not mean that we have to add an ingredient such as salt to all preparations, but we can incorporate some foods that naturally contain more sodium.

  • Seafood, such as prawns and octopus.
  • Fish, such as sardines, sole, and hake.
  • Dairy derivatives such as cheese and cottage cheese.
  • Meats, such as veal.
  • Vegetables such as green leafy vegetables: spinach or chard.
  • Carrot, artichoke, beet.

The second is to use sugars, which also help counteract the bitter taste of some foods. As with sodium, you have to choose those foods that contain them naturally, which are, for example:

  • Milk.
  • Tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes.
  • Carrot, onion, pumpkin.
  • Rice, pasta, corn.
  • Chestnuts, dried fruit.
  • Fruits.

It is about mixing foods that cause rejection due to their bitter taste with any of the above that contain sodium or sugars so that it is less difficult for the child to tolerate them.

Normally, the hardest thing for children to eat are vegetables. But luckily there are many possible preparations for vegetables, it is about experimenting and discovering which ones our little ones like the most. Vegetables can be cooked:

  • Cooked or in the pressure cooker.
  • Boiled
  • Steamed.
  • Sauteed.
  • Sautéed.
  • Stewed or stewed.
  • Scalding.
  • Raw in salad.
  • To the wok.
  • Roasted.
  • Grilled.
  • Baked.
  • In the microwave.
  • Fried

Set an example

Finally something that surely you are tired of hearing is “set an example”, but it is that everything comes down to the same, their environment. If their environment is healthy, they will be too. It is illogical that if we eat badly (or at least unhealthy products) we deny our children to eat them. In the same way that if we do not eat vegetables, we cannot expect them to eat them. If at home there is no habit of eating vegetables every day they will not eat them and the larger they are, the more it will cost them later to eat them. Now I am going to give you a situation that I am sure you have experienced or heard someone experience, and that shows what I am explaining.“ Honey, you won’t believe it, today I went to pick up the child and well, you know I had to leave him to eat because I had an appointment with the doctor, and the teacher told me about lunchtime. I was already blushing, thinking that he would tell me that the child had thrown the food or refused to eat, and quite the opposite! He told me that he had some peas with potato first and then he ate the zucchini garnish that accompanied the second course! I am left with my mouth open…

Let’s analyze the situation: why have you eaten the vegetables?

  1. The environment was favorable : all the children who were at his table were eating peas and potatoes which has pushed him, at least to try it. Seeing that everyone ate and realizing that it was a tasty and palatable food, he ate them.
  2. He was encouraged to try it : maybe he had never tried it before because he does not eat it at home but when he saw them, tasted them and realized that he liked them (peas have a sweet taste).
  3. The presentation: perhaps the child only knew peas in pureed form and that way he did not like it, but when he saw them with a potato next to them, he found them more appetizing.
  4. They did not force him : (if the dining room is as it should) they did not force him to eat them, nor did they blackmail him with hours of play, nor did they punish him, nor did they tell him that they would reward him …

So you see, there are several factors that influence but setting an example, having a favorable environment, is being familiar with food … it helps them eat better. It is also important for this last point, in addition to involving them in the purchase and cooking, that they see the vegetables on their plate, even if they are not going to eat them, that they see that there are vegetables on their plate every day (in different ways) and now one day they will be encouraged to eat them.

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