I’ve been fortunate enough to never have picky eaters at home. From day one, the kids have embraced broccolli, cauliflower and green beans. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been fairly nonchalant about them not wanting to eat (missing a meal won’t kill them – I promise) but I’ve made a choice to never make food an issue to fight about.
Honestly, we are not much of a “fast food” house because we literally have never been able to afford it. My kids had a take away meal the other day because they wanted the toy that came with the meal and they HATED it. They actually said that the burger tasted like cardboard. Even though they don’t mind veggies, they kick up less of a fuss when it is hidden in their food. So here are a few tips for you.
Don’t cook food especially for them every time you prepare a meal
My food processor is my best friend but a basic grater will do in a push. It doesn’t have to be a top of the line appliance but it makes a huge impact on how many veggies I can hide in my bolognaise. Seriously, carrots, celery mushrooms and even lentils are hidden in there sometimes which doesn’t only help with the amount of meat needed (and bring costs down) but it ups the nutritional value a lot. If they know that what is on the table is the only option between a full tummy and a hungry one, then more often than not they will eat what is available. The important thing is to leave emotions out of it and remain outwardly calm at all times.
Introduce new food items slowly
Most children aren’t big fans of change, especially when it comes to food. Many tend to request what they’ve already tasted and chances are, they almost always ask you for the unhealthy food. When you want to feed them broccoli, don’t just put it on the table and force them to eat it. Instead, tell them that it’s really yummy and will give them more energy to play. A little encouragement from their favorite superheroes can also help. In the 90s, the the Popeye cartoon was really helpful in feeding spinach – Popeye’s favorite food – to kids. Today, you can probably tell your children that if they want to be as strong as Captain America or Batman, they’d have to eat their veggies.
I’m pretty sure you heard all about the starving children in Ethopia when you were growing up but I chose to never guilt my kids into eating food. That’s just asking for food issues when they are older. There are wonderful charities that help less fortunate children who don’t have the privilege of three square meals a day but highlighting this fact and trying to lay guilt on my kids would only make them feel bad about not wanting to eat supper. They are also not required to “clean their plates”. I usually ask them to have just one bite of whatever is new to them just to try it. If they don’t like it, fine. But they will be asked to try it again and after a while you find that you’ve raised very adventurous little eaters.
Bring them into the kitchen
Involving your children in preparing your family’s meals can help them understand and become interested in what they’re eating. Take them to the kitchen and show them the different kinds of ingredients that you’ll be using when making meals. If they’re old enough, teach them how to cut vegetables and meat. If they see how yucky solidified lard is after you fry shop bought burgers, they might have second thoughts about asking you to buy it next time. They may even be willing to help you make it from scratch yourself.