For this article, we interviewed Dr. Heidi Sivers Boyce, President of the Oregon Athletic Clubs, which encourages elements of healthy lifestyle for every member of the family. Before this position, Dr. Sivers Boyce owned P. B. & Ellie’s Cafe in Southwest Portland. The restaurant offered organic, local & other healthier-choice meals especially for young diners and their parents.
Check out these books about healthy eating:
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell
The Food Parade by Elicia Castaldi
The Cultured Chef by Nicholas Beatty
The Monster Health Book by Edward Miller
1. Ensure kids have healthful foods to choose from. The first step is to fill your kitchen with good-for-you foods. Avoid the processed foods marketed directly to your children (gummy fruits, juice boxes, prepackaged lunch crackers, cheese, & meats, etc.) Even adults know that it’s easier to eat healthfully when your kitchen is loaded with fresh, whole foods.
2. Allow children to choose whether or not to eat something and how much of it to eat. If a child isn’t forced to choke down something they hate, they’re more likely to give it another try in the future.
3. For culinary inspiration, go to the library and gather a few kids’ cookbooks full of beautiful pictures. Planning your meals and snacks together with your children will help them to be more invested in eating the quality foods they have chosen. Regularly perusing cookbooks and recipes in magazines can also help your family stay away from food ruts. A great option is our newest cookbook, “Baking With Friends.”
4. Make grocery shopping a family activity. Let older kids monitor the list, read labels or practice their math skills with price comparing. Make it a fun activity!
5. Play “Find the Rainbow” at the grocery store, looking for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple foods that come from nature (no artificial colors allowed). This nearly guarantees a kitchen full of fruits and veggies, and since your child chose them, he or she will be more inclined to eat them.
6. Use all of the senses to interest kids in food variety, including their sense of humor. Let them help in food preparation. Present things in colorful, funny or enticing ways. For example, color your pancakes purple with pureed berries, shape your sand-wiches, or make silly faces with condiments on your burgers. These simple efforts create a safe way for kids to feel “adventurous in the kitchen,” a skill they can continue to build upon to battle normal picky eating instincts.
7. Sneak fruits and veggies as purees into favorite recipes is a great thing to do, and there are a lot of great cook books out there now with ideas. Just remember to put the natural form in front of your kiddo too.
8. When all else fails, try and try again Science has shown us that familiarity breeds liking. Take a long-term perspective and assume you’ll need to expose your children to a food 10 times before they will try it, 10 more times before they take a real bite, and 10 times after that before they like it. Patience and persistence will eventually pay off.
9. When eating out, choose your location wisely. More and more restaurants are realizing the importance of offering something for kids beyond fried foods and soda. Even if it’s not on the menu, most places will make sides such as grilled vegetables, carrot sticks, or milk or juice to drink.
10. The ultimate goal is to help kids believe that they are someone who loves healthy foods!