Helping Children Learn to Love Nutritional Foods
A friend and I often give each other “Nutritional Nuggets.” Little ideas to help us encourage healthy eating in the home. With two young boys who could easily be pegged picky eaters, I am always looking for new and inventive ways to ensure they’re eating nutritiously. So here’s my nutritional nugget to you:
Reintroduce, reintroduce, reintroduce! I make it a habit as a parent to NEVER confine my children’s palate to a once or twice reaction. In fact, we avoid assigning likes and dislikes to food as we understand it to be ever-evolving . I encourage my children that our tastebuds are always changing and that it’s exciting to try foods again and again waiting for the day that our mouth appreciates them.
Some people are shocked when my five year old begs for broccoli with dinner, but they might be more surprised to learn about the year my son fell in love with broccoli. As a two year old he was offended by the site of it. I would tell him that he didn’t have to eat it, but it did have to stay on his plate. Over time it’s smell and appearance became acceptable to him and we were ready to encourage a lick. The first lick resulted in full on body chills. It would be weeks before that lick turned into a bite. It was never a source of contention as I would simply ask “Let’s see what your tongue thinks of broccoli today.” Becoming familiar and comfortable with broccoli meant pretending they were little trees sometimes or coloring pictures of broccoli and learning about the many nutrients in broccoli and how those nutrients help our bodies stay healthy. While still in the infancy of our broccoli love affair, we looked at broccoli seeds and learned how broccoli grows.
When a friend remarks “You’re so lucky that your son loves vegetables!” I think back to those early days of chills and repulsion and can say with complete confidence that loving vegetables can be learned. Would you believe that from the days of praying he’d take a lick, it is now the first thing eaten off his plate at dinner time. In fact, sometimes the only thing, but I’ll take it!
If I could leave you with one “Nutritional Nugget” to encourage your child’s healthy eating habits it would be to avoid entertaining the idea that there are nutritional foods they don’t like. We easily fall into patterns and adjust our shopping and cooking to the likes and dislikes of our children until we are no longer introducing certain foods assuming they don’t like them. Children are much less likely to make long-term decisions about foods or activities than us adults, and it’s helpful if we don’t put that level of commitment into their daily whims. Also by avoiding saying “S/he doesn’t like broccoli” we are not attaching this to our children and they have more freedom to change their minds.
Recently I took my son out to eat at a diner where he was allowed to choose ANYTHING he wanted off the menu. He ordered “Carrots, an apple, and french fries.” Okay, you’ve got me on the fries, but the point is that these are the foods he wants to eat, not the foods he has to eat. And don’t even get me started on how many times I picked up spit out carrots off my floor before he actually started to swallow them. Good luck with all your nutritional goals for this year and happy reintroducing! FWF
Janaiah von Hassel, CEO of Kiro Kidz, is a proud mother of two young boys, Landon and Corbin, who she happily nurtures alongside her husband, Matthew. Janaiah turned to chiropractic after receiving her son’s autism diagnosis and, in doing so, discovered that her entire family benefited from care. In her desire to spread the word, she has found great fulfillment in her work with Dr. Todd Defayette on the creation and development of Kiro Kidz. This animated children’s book tells an exciting tale of the benefits of chiropractic care.