At one time or another, I think every mom wonders if she is mothering a child worthy of an expose on 20/20. Some children struggle with medical or emotional challenges expressed in eating habits that require the help of a trained therapist, nutritionist, or doctor. But when one of our moms asked, “How do we get our kids to eat more fruits and vegetables?” the mom audience collectively nodded their heads. It’s time for a “Question by U and 4U!”
Most children aren’t born craving broccoli. If your kids beg for brussel sprouts on their birthday, just go ahead and skip to the comments and tell us what your secrets are! But for all the rest of us, let’s talk about how to move kids from milk to mangoes in a day when chicken nuggets are made to look like rock stars. Like generations before us, we just want our kids to eat their fruits and veggies!
Is good nutrition worth the battle? Even though we know children need a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, moms often give in when faced with pouty lipped, arms crossed, nugget loving children. How can we encourage healthy eating without having to do battle?
- Model the diet you want for your kids. Be honest here … do you only eat an apricot when it’s in “jam form” in the middle of a pastry? Kids learn from what we choose to eat.
- Don’t put junk where good stuff should go. If they turn up their nose at pineapple, don’t shrug your shoulders and trade it for Pringles.
- Persevere if it matters … because it does. It doesn’t count as a failure after one rejection or five or ten. Start before they’re using silverware, and then keep putting healthy options in front of your children in every single stage of their life.
- Think like a florist and cook like an artist. Create a palette of food on your child’s plate that is varied and colorful, a display of different shapes and textures. Invite their help, their touching and their sampling. Make preparation, serving, and eating a joyful journey of the senses.
- Talk it up before you serve it up. Tell your children how thankful you are for the food you have and describe its wonderful qualities. Explain how God has given us the gift of fruits and vegetables to meet our needs and bring us pleasure. When you pray, thank Him for the gifts He’s given.
“And God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day” (Genesis 1:11-13).
Like any other healthy habit you train your children to practice, choosing a healthy diet pays dividends their whole life. In April 2008 The Journal of School Health reported that children who regularly eat vegetables and fruits do better academically than children with poor diets. Good nutrition produces increased attention to learn, greater energy levels, more desire for activity, stronger emotional balance, digestive well-being, and better sleep patterns. That’s worth taking the time to keep fruits and veggies on hand and ready to serve to children learning to choose what will help them grow strong for a healthy future.
And by the way, both of our kids beg for brussel sprouts on their birthdays! I’m not kidding. I drizzle the sprouts with olive oil and sprinkle a little sea salt and roast them for about 30 minutes at 350. I eat a couple … because the kids are watching. It makes the florist and the artist and the mother in me so happy.
Click here for a nutrition resource for kids provided by the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.
Shared by Julie Sanders
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