Kids' Grocery List and Mealtime Maneuvers
One of the many pressing issues we face as parents is how do we encourage our kids to try new foods, especially the healthy ones? Aren't there enough pressures we face as parents to keep it together? Work-life balance, extra curricular activities, homework, clean clothes, a tidy home, paying bills, having enough emotional capacity to help our children through the stages of life...the list goes on. Why can't putting food on the table be one less item on that list? We all need to eat. We all need food. Can't we all just eat together without the cringing, shuddering and aversion about what is on our plates?
Inevitably, there are those children who came out of the womb loving every single fare they are offered. Asparagus, sushi and even brussel sprouts don't even phase them. These children were blessed with the gift of a colorful palette. And then there are those children who cringe at the idea of something green. Food with texture? No thank you.
Some challenges with food are unavoidable, but what are some strategies of introducing new foods and food groups that can help alleviate the difficulty of shopping and preparing fine fettle foods that bring everyone peace of mind?
Here are a few ideas for shifting our mindset when it comes to food, how we shop and what we offer:
*Always have healthy options on hand. Stock your fridge with pre-sliced and easily accessible fresh foods. Clear storage containers full of goodies (aside of the apparent cucumbers, grapes, carrots) such as easy to open cheese sticks, yogurt or make ahead smoothies are great options! Side note: Children love making smoothies when they get to choose the ingredients. Smoothies are also a great food for slipping in some leafy greens just before blending! Shhh...it's a secret ;) The so called green flavor and color are both masked by the fruit. Not to mention, the smiles and sense of accomplishment of making a delicious smoothie make both the parent and child happy.
*Take your child grocery shopping with you (yes, shopping with you!) but shop only the perimeter of the store during this particular shopping spree. Start with fruits, make your way to vegetables and then mosey on over to meat and dairy. When you avoid the inside isles you are allowing your child to make choices, but only offering fresh options. This eliminates the battle over asking for sugar bugs in your pantry and the normal stressors of shopping with young ones. What they don't see, they don't miss. Encourage them and be excited about their choices. "Kiwi? That's so delicious. Great choice. I can't wait to eat that with you!"
*During meal time, have your child choose what vegetable they would like try. Give them the choice. Say, "sweetheart, would you like to have broccoli or carrots today?" They may respond with "I don't want anything" and that's when you gently reply back "I understand that you don't want to eat these foods but I am giving you the choice to choose what you want to eat. Would you prefer broccoli or carrots with dinner tonight?" We are tackling two birds here. Offering empathy and eliminating the power struggle. We are understanding but offering a choice. Children just want to know that they being heard and respected...much like us.
*Try to keep your lunch and dinner plates simple. A protein accompanied by a fruit, vegetable and starch is plenty. The options may seem basic,and by all means this is not realistic for every meal, but having clear cut choices eliminates the child from picking through their plate and foraging through unknown foods until they are left with almost nothing to eat. If all they see is chicken, green beans and rice, they are unable to question the source!
These are not the end all be all recommendations for mealtime madness, but we hope these simple strategies make a positive difference in your home.
Do you have any mealtime maneuvers that work successfully for you? Please comment or share your best practices.
All the best.