By Shelby Hunke, Registered Dietitian
As National Nutrition Month, March is a great time to examine the food choices you’re making and how you can develop good eating habits.
But you might be wondering, “How do I form good eating habits in my kids?” While they might put up a fuss if you introduce new and healthy meals, there are ways to finesse the situation to make the dishes you prepare more appealing.
Prepare one meal
If you put your foot down about cooking a separate meal to appeal to your children’s taste buds, then you condition them to know your expectations. It might be a good idea to try incorporating meals that can be assembled, such as wraps or tacos so that they can customize it and have a little more freedom.
Set an example
You might think that kids will only eat kid-friendly food like hot dogs or macaroni and cheese, but if you set the example, then they’re very likely to mimic you. Children look up to their parents. They desire to be like you, and if you show them you’re excited about your dinner, they might be too.
If your child isn’t too keen on that new fruit or vegetable, then serve it with something to dip it in, such as marshmallow cream, Cool Whip, hummus, salsa or a creamy dressing.
Let your child help you prepare the meal, everything from cutting up the ingredients to cooking it. If they’re invested in the creation of their food, they may be more likely to eat it.
It’s one thing to tell your child to simply “take a bite.” It’s another thing to pique their interest by saying, “What kind of texture is that? What do you smell? What does it look like?”
If you’re introducing a new food, research fun facts or the history of it to share with your child. You could even try cooking dishes from other countries and learn about them in the process.
Food is fun and colorful, and you can help your child see it that way. Cut the food into fun shapes, or have your child sort their fruits and veggies by color.
Fun names put a whole new perspective on food. A child might wrinkle their nose at broccoli and carrots, but if you dub them “bodybuilding broccoli” and “X-ray vision carrots,” then suddenly they become exciting and more appealing to your child’s imagination.
Encourage your child to pretend they are a famous chef or food critic. Let them taste each new dish and ask them to comment on what they observe about the food, such as the texture, the smell or the look.
For more resources related to National Nutrition Month, click here.
About the Author: Shelby Hunke is a registered dietitian working at Tri-County Health Care in the hospital and clinic. She has a degree in exercise science and a passion for helping patients live a healthy lifestyle. She lives in Wadena with her husband, Paul, and three kids, Madison, Jackson and Conor. In her spare time, she enjoys family time, running and the outdoors!