I am really lucky – my kids are not picky eaters at all. Mercury, our 4 year old, eats as much as I do and there are very few foods he doesn't love to gobble down. Timothy is still in that experimental stage where he wants to play with food more than eat it, but he is a lot like Mercury was at that age, so I have a lot of hope.
|Okay, so chocolate cake isn't really a hard sell –
even if there's black beans in it!
When it comes to healthy eating habits, I believe more is caught than taught. You can talk all you want about what foods are healthy but it doesn't do as much good as the actions around food in your home. Here are a few things that have seemed to help encourage our kids to be healthy, not-too-picky eaters!
#1 – Be a good role model. You can teach children to love healthy foods by eating them yourself. Children, especially young ones, will do as their parents do. Let them see you eating fresh fruits and vegetables rather than junk food.
#2 – Keep negative opinions about food to yourself. Even if you don’t care for a particular food, don’t make negative comments about it within earshot of your children. Honestly, it took forever for Mercury to express dislike for a food – I don't think it even occurred to him.
#3 – Let your children pitch in. It's so much more fun to eat something you helped create! It also keeps them connected and aware of where food comes from – a great reason to include them in your cooking and gardening projects. Yes – it takes longer and can be a test of patience. I just tell myself that it will be worth it when they are older and I can put them to work for real. 🙂
#4 – Keep junk food out of the house. Fresh fruits, vegetable sticks, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, cheese, or peanut butter are all yummy and healthy snacks. I definitely bake a lot, but as far as processed foods and candy and stuff – we just don't really keep it around. When we do, it's usually a mommy and daddy secret.
#5 – DON'T cook to order. What I cook is what everyone eats. If it's not a favorite, that's okay – but there isn't anything else served. I don't make special “kid food” or offer alternatives. Sometimes that means leaving the table without eating much. Now – before you think I'm the meanest mommy in the world, I don't go out of my way to make food that someone in the family doesn't like! I always try to make food that will be enjoyed. But – you can't win 'em all!
So the question is – am I lucky? Or have these habits just given my kids no other choice than to eat what they get and LIKE IT? I'm not sure – I have no point of comparison. I'll take the credit if I can, though.
What do you think – are picky eaters born or made? Or both?