Have you been dealing with a picky eater or a child who is really fussy when it comes to food? It’s pretty frustrating isn’t it? Often times food is a one that young children feel they have some control over their life, so they play up big at eating time. But, there are genuinely some kids who have an unknown aversion to certain foods that they haven’t even tried. As a nutritionist, retired school teacher, mother and grandmother, I have seen what works to transform the pickiest of eaters. Ready to find out how? Read on.
Transform your picky eater
My 3 year old granddaughter, Kaia, wasn’t that keen on eating blueberries, so her mother decided to get her involved in making a blueberry sauce for pancakes.
Kaia, like most kids, enjoys measuring, adding ingredients to recipes, mixing and stirring. She also loves putting on the little apron and chef’s hat that grandma (me!) made for her.
While preparing the sauce, Kaia was “eyeing” the berries keenly as she dropped them into the saucepan and stirred. She said, “Well, maybe I’ll eat just one!” Once the sauce and pancakes were ready to eat and the table set, with the sauce as the main attraction, the family sat down to eat. Kaia’s brother exclaimed, “This blueberry sauce is so yummy!” Mommy said, “Kaia made it.” Kaia ended up having 3 servings. Picky eater of blueberries no more!
The quiest way to transform your picky eat is to get your kids involved in growing, tasting, touching, and making meals. This results in a familiarity, a bonding effect with the foods.
However, another great idea is to talk about the Color Families of food, what each family is noted for, and how this helps us grow healthy and strong. Have you ever noticed that kids’ eyes light up when shown bright colors? They especially love to look at a rainbow of colors – so why not apply this to fruit and veggie eating?
You could call these foods “go grow” foods so that kids can differentiate between “go grow” healthy and “no grow” unhealthy foods.
Let’s be detectives and find out the main nutrients in the Food Color Families.
Food color family
Red Family: tomatoes, watermelon, guava, red peppers : antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C help us fight diseases
Orange Family: Carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, mangoes : beta-carotene supports the immune system and is a powerful antioxidant
Certain nutrients found in carrots help the body fight bacteria and toxins that come in through the mouth and live in the gums and teeth which may lead to cavities and tooth decay. Carrots can help remove plaque and stains from teeth when eaten after meals. The fiber acts as a brush in the digestive system, whisking away bad bacteria. Who doesn’t love baby carrots? Make them organic to avoid pesticides and herbicides and other sprays we don’t need in our bodies.
Yellow-Orange Family: oranges, lemons, grapefruit, apricots, papayas, peaches, yellow peppers : provide lots of vitamin C to keep our cells working well, especially the adrenals
Green Family: spinach, kale, collards, broccoli, dill, parsley, zucchini, green peppers, cabbage, bok choy, romaine lettuce, arugula: packed with disease-fighting phytonutrients, especially for the heart and immune system
As research has proven, they are the first family you want to eat every day.
Blue Family: blueberries, purple grapes, blue plums
The pigment (blue color) anthocyanin destroys free radicals to help us stay healthy.
Red-Purple Family: Grapes, berries, plums, cherries, purple cabbage, beets : antioxidant powerhouses
Beets are a rare natural source of betalains, anti-aging pigments to neutralize toxins, combat inflammation and repair damaged cells. Other nutrients help the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, to empower endurance, energy and memory.
You can buy beet juice in Health food stores, or add uncooked beets to a red smoothie with cherries or berries, some leafy greens, liquid and sweetener of choice, and vanilla extract. Bam! You’ve just helped your cells repair and regenerate.
You can also purchase beet powder online (e.g. Amazon.com) It works great to color frostings, whipped cream, and baked products. Get creative!
One of my most popular recipes is the simplest I have which is called “Fruit Swords”. You can find this recipe in the Snappy Snacks Cookbook Bonusyou receive when you purchase all 3 books in the “The Yummy Adventures of Celia & Cedric Read and Bake Series.
Special thanks to Laara Exsnar, author of The Yummy Adventures of Celia and Cedric for this guest post!