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Can You Win the New Food Battle With Kids?

Posted Posted by Lana the Iguana in Articles & Inspiration, Tips,Tricks & Best Practices     Comments 2 comments
Sep
13

By Sofia Horvath, Master Facilitator and Mother of 3

The answer is: yes!

As a mom of three young children, I can easily relate to the food issues/battles/frustrations/whatever-you-want-to-call-it that so many other parents have. I have carefully watched my child out of the corner of my eye, looking to see if today will be the day that she does not spit egg out. Or if I have successfully disguised it enough to get her to consume it. I have slaved over what I thought would be a slam-dunk winning dinner (because it was something that had previously been a hit) only to have two out of the three kids decide they didn’t like it that day. And I have sat there when my 2-year-old pushed her plate away, declaring, “I don’t like it.”—before even looking to see what it was!

I’ve been there. I have traveled that road. I don’t think anyone caring for kids can avoid it.

However, despite their occasional resistance, I’m lucky to have three kids who eat a variety of foods, many of which include fruits and vegetables. So instead of dwelling on the failures and frustrations, I would like to celebrate the successes and share the (mostly) tried and true tricks I use to introduce new and healthy foods to my kids.

  1. Get them while they are hungry. You know that half hour right before dinner when the kids are at their crabbiest and begging for a snack, and you are trying desperately to throw dinner together as fast as you can without losing your mind? THAT’S IT! That is the moment! Take that moment to put out a plate of chopped up veggies and some hummus or guacamole. Don’t make a big production of it or try too hard. Just put it on the table and walk away. It looks pretty, the kids think they are getting away with eating right before dinner, and they will be eating something healthy, and (perhaps more importantly) they will be quiet and leave you alone.
  2. Don’t serve the new food with “competing” foods. If you try tip #1, but throw out some chips with the guacamole, you might as well bring the veggies right back into the kitchen. Of course, there are the kids that would choose the veggies over chips, but mine wouldn’t and I know they’re not alone.
  3. Let them help you pick out a new food or vegetable to try. Take a family trip to the grocery store. Ask the child to pick out something (from the produce section!) that they would like to try. If it is something you know how to prepare, awesome. If not? Google it, and enjoy the adventure of preparing bok choy, or kale, or whatever interesting thing they have chosen. It might be something new for all of you (and then you will be that much more informed when watching Top Chef).
  4. Have them help you prepare it. This could be as simple as putting cherry tomatoes on skewers or mixing something in a bowl. Give them the ingredients/meal components, a butter knife and tell them to come up with their own dinner. It is borderline ridiculous what my kids will eat if they had a hand in making it. I have seen my child dip tomatoes into yogurt and declare it delicious just because she came up with the idea herself.

 

Do my kids always eat what’s on their plate? No. But they do recognize that new foods can be fun and taste good. And in the back of my head, I am already counting on the wonderful meals they will serve me as they grow up to be accomplished chefs.

3 Tips for Positive (and fun!) Meals and Snacks

Posted Posted by Lana the Iguana in Articles & Inspiration, Tips,Tricks & Best Practices     Comments No comments
Aug
17

By Carrie Reynoso, Registered Dietitian & LANA Master Facilitator

In today’s busy schedule there are many different things that influence what and how much kids eat. Everything from enticing characters on cereal, juice and fruit boxes or the home cooked meals during dinnertime, to the new fruity apricot bug activity presented at school for snack  can affect a child’s food choices.  As time flies by we can easily forget the huge role both parents and teachers play in helping children develop those healthy eating habits that they will apply for a lifetime.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for changing habits by creating a more positive (and fun) mealtime:

Adults are responsible for:       Children are responsible for:

What food is offered                    How much food is eaten
When food is offered                   Whether they eat
Where food is offered

 

1. Encourage through words:

    • Encourage children to taste a variety of new foods
    • Praise and reinforce children for trying and tasting any new foods
    • Understand the consequences of bribing, forcing or rewarding children
      • Rewards can backfire~ devalue the new food being introduced and increase the value of the reward
      • Nagging or persuading can increase resistance to the new or desired food
    • Identify and emphasize the new food choices at meals

2. Encourage through behavior:

      • Model positive eating habits                                                 
      • Eat meals and snacks with children
      • Serve/offer appropriate portions to children
      • Understand “normal” childhood eating behaviors
        • Expect food waste
        • Irregular eating habits
        • Expect spills and a mess
        • There will be squirming
      • Involve children in age appropriate meal preparation tasks

3. Encourage through the environment:

        • Offer new foods every day at breakfast, lunch and snacks
        • Substitute or reduce availability of foods that will compete with the new food
        • Offer repeated opportunities for children to try the new food
        • Create a calm and supportive mealtime environment
          • Reduce distractions during meals
          • Create regular, structured mealtime routines
          • Promote positive conversation at meals
          • Encourage and allow children to eat at their own pace
          • Promote good table manners
        • Encourage children to serve themselves and regulate their own food intake