By Noelle Payomo, director of nutrition at Kidango. Published on February 27, 2019.
As we enter spring and a range of fruits and vegetables are coming into season, it’s a great opportunity to introduce your young ones to new, healthy food. Getting your kids interested and engaged in food can help to set positive eating habits that will last a lifetime.
Research shows that the more kids learn about different foods, the more likely they are to make healthy choices. Take your kids with you when you do your grocery shopping, and let them explore the produce aisles or farmer’s market stands. Help them name different fruits, vegetables, and herbs and use descriptive language when talking about their appearance, smell, and texture. Teach your kids about seasonality – when certain foods grow and when they’re harvested. You might ask them how or where they think they grow. On a tree? Underground? On a vine? Your children will enjoy this interactive way of food shopping and it may even renew your perspective on this once-mundane task, awakening your curiosity about different foods as well.
You can also captivate your children’s interest by stopping by your local library and looking for children’s books about fruits and vegetables before or after grocery trips. Giving your children many opportunities to get to know unfamiliar foods will help to diminish fear of new things and create enthusiasm for nutritious foods.
When children eat from a wide variety of foods, they get a wide range of nutrients. Strive to serve wholesome meals with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Use new food experiences to make meal times special, instead of shying away from certain items or flavors you think your child might not like. Serving a new food alongside a familiar favorite can help with your kids’ receptiveness.
Many parents are concerned that their children are not eating enough and are tempted to feed them anything they ask for, but this reinforces pickiness. It’s best to cook one meal for the entire family rather than catering to different tastes. Remember, picky eaters are made, not born. Include your children in the menu planning process while guiding them toward healthy selections, and let them help out as much as possible!
What tips do you have for introducing your children to healthy foods? Leave a comment below or tweet us @Kidango.
To find out more about Kidango’s nutrition program, click here.