It goes without saying you’d like your little one to have a great relationship with food, and ideally they’ll be eating a balanced and varied diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, grains, seeds and dairy by their first birthday. But the reality is, as your child begins to taste and explore different foods, you may have to put some effort into getting them to appreciate all of them.
There are a few things you can do to nurture their relationship with food. Try involving them with the shopping process – write a list, get them to come along with you to the shop to pick fruit and vegetables, and let them handle and taste them in their raw state.
If you’ve got a garden, create a little veggie patch. Get your children to help you to plant seeds, water them, and harvest herbs and veggies when they’re ready.
You can also get your children to join you in the kitchen. Try some easy and fun baking on rainy days. Let them see what you’re doing in the kitchen, so they understand there is a process involved when turning a raw piece of food into what they see on their plate.
If you’ve got a child who often refuses vegetables and other nutritious foods, keep trying, but you may need to get creative. Here are health coach Lee Holmes’ top 6 tips on how to sneak super healthy foods into your child’s diet.
1. Secret spinach smoothie
Next time you make a blueberry smoothie, which is an excellent source of antioxidants, toss in a handful of spinach and it will likely go undetected. Mix a handful of spinach with a scoop of Greek yogurt, a scoop of ice, blueberries, half a banana and almond or rice milk. Now watch them gulp it down.
2. Marinara sauce
Most kids love pasta, so take advantage of it and make a sauce that’s full of vegetables. When cooking the sauce as you normally would, add zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, kale or any other vegetable you’d like to sneak in. Use a handheld blender to smooth the sauce before dishing it up with a bowl of pasta. They will never know the difference.
3. Chia muffins
Chia seeds are a delicious superfood, packed with omega 3s and ridiculously high in antioxidants. They’re extremely versatile and easy to use. Add them to smoothies, sprinkle on top of yogurt or muesli, or toss them in your muffin mix, they thicken muffins nicely and add bulk and texture.
4. Veggie-packed meatballs
Next time you make meatballs, use a food processor to blend mushrooms and zucchini, then add it to the meat mixture before forming the balls. When cooked, your kids won’t notice the extra veggies, but you’ll know they’re in there!
5. Dip it
Kids love an interactive meal and not just splattering it all over the table. Making their own anything always goes down well. The same is true for dip. Surround a nice healthy dip with carrot sticks, celery sticks, snow peas and cucumber slices and you’re bound to increase the veggie quotient quickly.
6. Cauliflower mash
This white veggie is not an easy one to get kids to eat whole. Mashed, however, it’s a whole new ball game. Mashed cauliflower is one of the most delicious side dishes a parent or caregiver can make. If you like, add a sweet potato or two to maintain texture and your kids will devour it. You can also sneak pureed cauliflower into a white creamy sauce and pour it over grilled chicken breasts.
You’ll find lots of healthy kids’ recipes in Lee’s Supercharged Food Kids Recipe book or visit superchargedfood.com for more delicious ideas.
If you struggle to get your child to eat nutritious foods, and you’re worried about their health, book in to see your child’s GP, or make an appointment to see a dietitian who specialises in children’s health. You can claim for benefits towards dietitian consultations as part of Medibank’s Growing Family Extras Cover.
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