Happy National Nutrition Month! Here at the barn we know that eating a variety of foods is one of the keys to a healthy diet. Everyone who has experienced HealthBarn USA will agree: You can argue, lecture, bribe, beg and threaten at the dinner table, but there is a better way to get kids to eat well and to enjoy their food. We make it happen by teaching children (and the grown-ups who love them) about delicious nutritious food and the healthy lifestyle that goes with it; all served up with a huge, tasty scoop of fun! Here are some tips for grown-ups from my book Appetite for Life:
- Make yourself a role model. If your children see you trying new foods and being open minded, they will likely do the same.
- Keep it positive. Be excited about the foods that you are serving instead of expecting your children to dislike them. Your enthusiasm is contagious!
- Involve your children. When children are involved in the process, they are curious to taste what they’ve created. Even just letting them pick out a new food at the supermarket or farmers’ market can give them ownership over that new experience. You’ll need to practice more patience because it will take more time – but it’s worth it!
- Make veggies crunchy. Try serving vegetables raw first, so your children can experience the vegetables taste and texture in their natural state. We recommend flash blanching vegetables by pouring boiling water over them in a bowl for 1-2 minutes and then, drain to serve crunchy. Overcooked or mushy vegetables are sure to get a thumbs down!
- Be patient. Would you want someone pushing one of your “yuk” foods on you? Encourage your children to take one bite. But beyond that, take it easy.
- Be persistent. According to the USDA, many children need to try a new food five to ten times before they like it.
- Don’t Yuk My Yum! Peer pressure is powerful (friends and family, too!) so opinions about food need to be expressed with care. We express the taste experience with a thumb up if we like it, a thumb to the side if we are not sure and a thumb down if we don’t like. Remember yuk is a four letter word at the Barn!
Remember that while you may want your kids to eat healthy, if they don’t buy into the concept, it’s not going to happen. Empowering them with knowledge and making it fun through hands-on recipes and activities is key to getting the whole family sold on living a healthy-lifestyle.
What tip(s) resonates with you and why?
– Stacey Antine, MS RD, author, Appetite for Life and founder, HealthBarn USA