Feeding children can be hard, even more so if you’ve got a picky eater. Most children want uncomplicated food, and some are prone to ‘taste neophobia’; the fear of trying new flavours. Parents, out of their fear of leaving their children starving and grumpy, pander to their little neophobes by offering familiar, bland foods—like pasta and bread—that have a good chance of being eaten. Munching on bland foods may leave a child feeling full, but their body misses out on the healthy fats, vitamins and minerals that growing bodies and brains need.
The benefits of feeding youngsters a good amount of nutritious food can’t be underestimated. But a lot of parents are losing the battle of getting their children to eat health-boosting foods. While New Zealand is a world leader in producing a wide range of foodstuffs with diverse nutrients, it’s estimated that only 50% of children eat three or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
Fruits and vegetables contain a substantial amount of vitamins and provide valuable phytochemicals and antioxidants that reduce inflammation, decrease oxidative stress and improve immune function. They also help to build stronger bones due to their high levels of potassium, magnesium and calcium. When consumed regularly over a lifetime, fruits and vegetables help to reduce the risk of many diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.
Research shows that healthy habits that are established during early childhood persist into adolescence and adulthood. It is never too late to start. Here are some simple ways to get more nourishment into your kids:
- Put fruit and vegetables in a bowl where children can see and reach it.
- Add wholefood supplements to juice, smoothies, yoghurt and milk.
- Chop soft fruits into fun shapes with cookie cutters.
- Swap crackers & biscuits for vegetables sticks and hummus.
- Hide grated vegetables in food, such as grated carrot or zucchini in sweet or savoury muffins.
- Be a positive role model – fill your pantry with healthy foods and enjoy them as a family.
- Get your children involved with meal-time preparation.
- Serve frozen fruit for dessert.
- Make food fun. Cut vegetables or fruit into cubes and stick toothpicks into them.
- Keep at it! Continue to reintroduce foods (without force or frustration) to your children.
It can be so frustrating when you have a child that wants to eat food that you know lacks adequate nutrition. The great news is that there is a secret weapon that can help you to win the battle and ensure that your children are nourished. Morlife’s Clever Kidz and Greens Kidz are nutrient-dense greens and chocolate formulas that are super fuel for growing bodies and brains—in other words, nutritional insurance for parents of picky eaters!