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How to Encourage Kids to Eat Family Meals

healthy child nutritionLet’s be honest, most kids are picky when it comes to foods. It can be very frustrating and difficult at times to get your kids to eat healthy meals and snacks, let alone try new foods. However, as parents, it is important to make sure you are not always offering those “kid-friendly” foods like mac and cheese, fish sticks, and goldfish crackers.

To achieve healthy child nutrition, kids need to learn to eat a variety of foods and expand their palates.

Although it is acceptable to occasionally make kid-friendly meals, try to also make foods that you want to eat and that you want to expose the kids to. These foods may include intense textures, exotic spices, and foods that may be new to kids. On these more adventurous food nights, do not short order cook – so a PB and J or mac and cheese for the kids is out of the question.

Tips To Get Kids to Eat “Adult” Foods

  1. Make sure there are options that kids will like. Even if it is bread and milk, they need something to satisfy their hunger.
  2. If there are foods you like and your kids do not, go ahead and make them occasionally. Your kids will never learn to like different foods unless these foods are offered.
  3. Consider your child’s likes and dislikes. This does not mean they always get their favorites like grilled cheese or fish sticks. It means that when you serve a meal like beef stew, make sure the foods you serve along with it are foods your children will eat so they have some choices.
  4. Never give in and make your child a kid-friendly food. This will teach them that if they refuse long enough that they get the foods they want. Also, it will teach them that there are specific “adult” foods and “kid” foods.
  5. Make sure not to set up the meal by saying, “This is a food that you will not like, so I made you rice and broccoli.” Let your child decide for themselves what they like and do not like.
  6. Remember the golden rule. It is up to the parent to decide what and when to eat. The child is responsible for how much they eat and if they eat at all.

Feeding young children can often be difficult and challenging. Many pre-school, and even school-age children, have a narrow list of foods they consider acceptable to them which makes family meals a challenge. But, eventually, it you keep giving them opportunities to try new things, they will eat a larger variety and become more daring when it comes to mealtime. Just continue to offer a variety of flavors, different foods, and new recipes. They will come around and thank you for it down the road.

 

Image courtesy of eyeliam on Flicker

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