Getting Kids to Eat the Rainbow
As mothers, we tend to have the ability to pick up bits and pieces of information and make them work for the betterment of our children. There’s also a lot of trial and error in mothering. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you have a picky eater on your hands OR you’re entering into the world of solids as a first-time mom and want to make sure your kids learn to love a variety of foods.
I would never tell a mom they have to buy a fancy sandwich cutter or add edible sparkles to everything, but colors are a big part of learning to eat healthier. We know most of us don’t feel that we have enough time for that level of fancy. However, if you’d like to take it to that level, go for it!
If it looks beautiful, it must taste delicious. Let’s say you’ve decided to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which isn’t the most colorful food ever, then bring the sandwich to life with some green grapes and orange peppers. No excuses for a healthier option. A bag of chips these days is solid $5.00 or more.
A few years back, I was sitting in the pediatrician’s office with my daughter. We spent a lot of days there, but this day was particularly busy. There was a TV screen with an educational parenting video playing, and it happened to be about eating. My daughter was too little to eat solids yet, but the video showed a woman speaking and her children standing at her side. As I listened, she was talking about “go,” “slow,” and “no” foods. The “Go” foods were foods such as veggies and fruits. The “slow” foods were foods such as pastas, dark meats, and low-sugar snacks like potato chips. And the “No” foods were no more than once a day, like sugary cereals, sugary granola bars, and sugary treats. It wasn’t any new information for me, but it was neat to me that her kids were the ones able to categorize these foods.
Aside from the “Go,” “Slow,” and “No” foods talk, she began to speak about how important it is to get your child as involved as possible in the cooking process. Essentially, we want them to be like tiny chefs. Letting them throw the chopped veggies into the bed of lettuce sitting in the salad bowl, or letting them beat the eggs with a hand beater, or letting them spread the peanut butter on the bread with a plastic knife. This may seem obvious to some, but for first-time moms, like I was at that time, it was pure genius, and so this was something I wanted to implement in my home.
Grow a Garden:
I understand that not everyone has the land to grow a garden, but I can almost guarantee that you could fit a pot on the kitchen windowsill. This is a great place to grow some herbs like thyme, basil, or rosemary. These herbs add flavor and pizzazz to your food and help children expand their palates.
The other night, I made spaghetti with jarred sauce and boxed pasta. I have many of these nights as managing life with 3 little kids isn’t always a ray of sunshine. How can you take a simple meal and kick it up a notch? Grab those herbs and throw some or one of them in! I happened to choose fresh basil because I think it’s the best for pasta sauce. Add the sauce and basil to a pot and while it’s warming up on the stove, let the basil cook down that way your kids won’t be chomping on crunchy basil while slurping down their usual spaghetti dinner. The crunch may just throw them off and ruin the whole idea of adding additional flavor.
It may feel overwhelming to make all of these changes at one time, so I encourage you to take it one simple tactic at a time. If starting with some more lively colors resonates with you, then make that your starting place. Although these are all tricks we’ve implemented in our home, it’s not expected that all of these tips will work for your family. My hope is that you’ve gained new insight and have learned something new that maybe you can use as is or maybe I’ve sparked a new thought in your mind. If so, comment and share below your own tips and tricks!