I have a four year old. Her pallet is not always into some of the things I cook for my husband and myself. But while I have some “back ups” (quick things to throw together for her) for the most part I prepare for her the same things we eat, in a different way.
Two important things:
-I never assume that she won’t like something we are eating. Sometimes she surprises herself (and us) with things she likes. There was a point at which she decided she didn’t like “green things” but she loves broccoli, green beans and avocado.
-We encourage her to try new things without making a huge deal out of it. If there is something new on her plate that she doesn’t want to try, we don’t force it. Often she will try something she originally rejected when she sees us eating it. Usually she does it when we aren’t looking. We’ve found praising her when she tries something as opposed to forcing her to is more effective.
So tonight Jamal and I had fish tacos and roasted hot pepper salad. The salad was going to be too hot for Lola, the fish was a little spicier than she normally likes. So rather than make her something completely different, when I’m preparing the rest of the family’s meal I save out components “plain” for her. What she often ends up with is the same meal as us but deconstructed. Tonight that was corn, avocado, fruit and lightly seasoned fish.
This way she gets to eat things in a way that she is comfortable with and I’m not cooking different meals for everyone. It makes me feel good about what she eats and certainly cuts my time in the kitchen drastically.
Another thing my husband started doing with her that I love, is taking her to the produce section and letting her pick something. Usually we have a vegetable side with every dinner and he will allow her to pick it. She also loves to pick fruit for herself. For my part I like to let her “help” me in the cooking process. A lot of times what I need to do is not easy for her to help me with, so I’ll have her stir or do something like take mushrooms out of the package and put them in a strainer. These things take more time if she is doing them. But being involved in the process makes her much more excited about the food as well as more likely to try it if it’s something new.
This is the kind of thing people ask me about all the time so I hope there are some helpful tips here for you. I want you to know that Lola, too, eats unhealthy foods. I am not a perfect Mother. I don’t want this to make anyone feel guilty about what their kids had for dinner. However if you are trying to add more healthy foods to your children’s diet, you might try some of the above.
Do you have any ideas not mentioned? Tell me about them!