HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO EAT HEALTHY.
Disclaimer: Some of these ideas are my own, but most are borrowed. Okay, you have already heard this but it's true. The worst thing a parent can do is offer to make a separate meal because Johnny "hates that". It's true. It's one of the smart things I did right from the gecko (mainly because I was too tired to cook something else)
Kids by nature hate trying new things, and experts say that it can take ten times of eating a new food before a child will like it. If you offer to cook something separate you are sending the message to your child that he can call the shots in regards to what he/she eats and you will set up a pattern that will be hard to break. I think mom's fall into this easy rut because we think that they are going to die or feel guilty if we send them to bed on a empty stomach. Guess what? They will survive!
Here are my ground rules. I always cook something that truly is very good tasting and easy to chew, especially if they are pretty young. Beef stew is great, it is really tender and has all those veges drunk on yummy sauce. Swiss steak is good: you can puree some veges and add to the sauce and it's tender. I think that how tender/easy to chew a food is often dictates how well a child acclimates to a new food. Kids sometimes have a sensitive gag reflex, so anything that does not go down smoothly could be taboo. I learned that from my Michael, he was my inspiration to cooking foods that were almost tender enough to melt in his mouth. Remember the boiled broccoli your mom put on your plate with a piece of over cooked dried chicken? UGH. Take a little extra time to make their food yummy.
I always made sure that if their was a suspicious looking item on their plate it was complimented by two sure thing foods, (something they really like). I aways insisted that they had to at least try the new food once. I also would not let them up from the dinner table until 80% of the rest of the meal was consumed. (make sure the portions are reasonable). Now of course I have to apply my 80/20 rule to this. Some of the time, 20% of the time, their are exceptions: johnny ate a late snack so he might not be all that hungry, you have cooked a meal that is just a little out of their league and you can't really expect them to eat it (in that case, don't wait for the child to demand you cook something else, just make something else but don't call attention to the fact.) That way it's your idea and not theirs). Johnnie is not feeling good...you get the idea. But 80% of the time, hold firm. If they whine and cry and make your meal unbearable, excuse him from the table and let him know that he is forfeiting any food for the rest of the night. Wait until you see how little they whine at breakfast.
I apply my 80/20 rule to total food consumed during the day. EX: If 80% of the food eaten all day is healthy, I don't worry about the remaining 20%, chips, candy......fair game. Another thing I did, (I thought I created this idea but then Jerry Seinfeld's wife wrote a book on it) was to sneak healthy food into things that they love. For ex: when making spaghetti, I would mince up carrots, broccoli, spinach, any kind of vege works well into the meat sauce.(Just saute in pan and they will wilt into nothing and disappear). Pick two veges, chop the crap out of them and throw it in. You can hide food in meatloaf, brownies, lasagna, and if your making a food that has a sauce like brown gravy puree vege's and add it in. Start being creative, you'll be surprised at the good ideas you will come up with. You would be surprised that your sauces will taste even better. Nobody will notice and you can be smug while they are eating it!
You can mix potatoes half/half with cauliflower that you have nuked in the micro for 8 min and soft. Try smashing peas instead of serving as is...its easier for them to scoop up. You would be surprised to know that the reason some kids don't like peas is because they don't like the feeling of peas popping in their mouth. Make sure you add butter and salt. All those nutrients far out way a little fat/sodium. My kids eat about a half cup each when served this way..Don't ever try and make a kid eat frozen carrots, they are terrible...do this instead...buy the ones cut like waffle fries, saute them in butter and honey, your kids should love them.
Another thing that made life easy, especially when the kids were young, I would freeze tiny portions in freezer bags with left overs. That way when you don't have time too cook, that little serving that you had leftover and were going to toss becomes the perfect, instant meal for your little one. There was a time that I had forty little meals on hand at any given time ready to go...and it will cut down on your grocery bill dramatically. It's also great for babysitters. You don't have to cook a meal when you are going out!
I also like to buy adult protein bars (some are like candy), and diet drinks like slim fast (I called, they have no stimulants or suppressants..just all good stuff!) equalline is one I have bought allot of. Serve it with their meal or as a dessert or snack. I really liked the V8 brand juice that has a serving of fruit and vegs for when they are really boycotting healthy food.
Think out of the box. Don't just shop the kid's isle when looking for good food ideas. Sometimes the foods sold just for kids is less healthy and more expensive then adult food. Just compare yogurt...UGH. Anyway, hope this helps. QAnnie