5. Don’t be a short-order cook.
Ever find yourself making one meal for the adults in the house and another for the kids — or even one for each kid? Children take their time warming up to new things and if you keep giving them the old standbys they’re not going to branch out and explore new foods. Be patient.
Most research says that it takes an average of ten to twelve attempts before a child will try a new food, unless they are involved in cooking and gardening projects. Learning about food and cooking in an active way helps breed a sense of culinary adventure.
Make the same dinner for everyone in the family while making sure to put some foods on the plate that your children like — then add something new. If they don’t touch it, don’t worry about it, and definitely don’t make an argument out of it.
Try again the next week and again the following week. Eventually they’ll surprise you by at least tasting that new food.
6. Don’t buy into marketing for kids.
Kids don’t need frozen chicken nuggets, French fries, macaroni and cheese, and pizza to keep them happy. Highly processed foods like these are loaded with chemicals, synthetic fats, additives, artificial sweeteners, and food colorings. And even a three-year-old can grasp why fizzy drinks aren’t good for you and why we don’t eat foods with lots of fat every day at every meal.
Since television ads are the most prevalent medium and therefore influential, we recommend limiting television viewing early in life to channels with fewer commercials — or better yet, to videos with no commercials. Use a digital video recorder to record special programs on television so you can edit out the commercials as they watch.
You can’t keep heavily processed foods out of their diets forever, but the longer you limit exposure while instilling healthy eating habits, the more likely your children will be to make better choices when left to their own devices.
Parents should also be working to remove food colorings, benzoate preservatives, and artificial sweeteners from their children’s diets. More than 2.5 million children have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and an additional 15 percent of children have borderline hyperactivity or behavioral issues. Research shows that nearly 100 studies validating the hypothesis that food dyes and additives are a factor in attention and behavior disorders and can increase the incidence of ADHD. In one of those studies 73 percent of children placed on a diet free from chemical additives, dyes, and artificial sweeteners showed a reduction in hyperactivity and an increase in attention.
Faced with the child who thinks he might implode without that blue applesauce, hold your ground and look for an organic applesauce instead while explaining that both taste the same but one has things added to it that aren’t healthful. If you have a particularly stubborn child, do a blind taste test to prove your point.
Tips 7 and 8 coming soon…