In today’s world, it’s important to know how to raise healthy eaters in your family. Here are tips to keep in mind for every age group.
Handling Your Toddler’s Picky Eating
When your toddler throws his peas at you, it’s easy to think all children are just picky eaters. But picky eating hits its peak around age 2 then tapers off by about 6 years old, according to Appetite. There is hope that your child will grow to love all kinds of foods.
Experts recommend exposing toddlers to as many new and different foods as possible — without forcing them to eat it. Offer just a tiny taste, until the child asks for a full serving on their own, and ask how they think the food tastes, feels and smells.
Offer Young Kids a Variety of Foods
Don’t defer to serving kids only their favorites or always offering the same food the same way. This is how kids get into food ruts, according to “It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating.”
Instead, it’s best to offer a variety of different foods every day, switch things up and keep snacks to a minimum so kids come to the table hungry. Don’t give up if your child tasted broccoli once and won’t eat it again.
Keep trying, and prepare foods differently next time. For example, broccoli can be served raw, steamed or broiled and paired with a variety of different seasonings and dips. Or, it can be sautéed with garlic and olive oil and mixed into meals such as lasagna and salads. Another example is grapes, which can be served in green, red or purple varieties and eaten raw or even frozen. Offer these certain foods when everyone else is eating it too for a better chance of acceptance.
Make Cooking A Family Activity
When kids help with the grocery shopping and cooking, they’re more likely to want to eat the foods they’ve bought with you. This is also a great time to teach kids about the nutrition of certain foods.
To get your children involved in cooking meals and learning about healthy ingredients, make cooking a fun way to spend time together as a family. Younger kids can help read recipes and assemble and measure ingredients. Older kids, such as middle schoolers, can learn basic cooking techniques and search online for recipes.
Knowing how to raise healthy eaters is important, even when it comes to teenagers. There is still power in family, food and good conversation even when teens seem more interested in homework, friends, sports, activities or a job.
Remember, most teens still enjoy their favorite home-cooked meals, so invite them to the dinner table whenever possible. Teens are also old enough to learn how food gets to the table and how it affects their health, which can produce some lively debates on the dinner table.
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.