As parents and students start their New Year’s Resolutions, it’s time to get healthy-eating habits back on track. For children in particular, this starts with parents especially if they have choosy eaters gathering around the table, says Canyons District Nutrition Services Director Sebasthian Varas.
It can take preschool-aged children numerous times of tasting new foods before they can determine whether they actually like a food, according to a study on eating behaviors in the National Library of Medicine. This makes it crucial that parents be both persistent and creative when they introduce healthy food options to their children, Varas said during a recent segment on Fox 13’s “The Place.”
Here are some tips for healthy eating for even the most stubborn customers, and a few tasty recipes to try:
- Have a plan. Make sure you have a set schedule for meals and snacks because children need to eat often (usually every three to four hours). Plan to have three meals and at least two snacks available during the day, and remember to keep them balanced with a variety of whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and dairy sources.
- Don’t be afraid to try new foods with your children. Children will learn to accept different flavors and foods at different stages of their childhood. Make healthy options available to them and keep in mind children’s preferences for new foods are enhanced when they are exposed to new foods several times in a friendly environment. Children need to be exposed to new foods an average of 10-16 times before they accept them.
- Don’t force children to finish their plates. The best thing you can do as a parent is to serve a balanced meal. If you force your children to eat their vegetables, they will likely resist the idea, so remember to introduce new foods slowly and don’t forget that children often learn through example, so eat a balanced meal with them.
- Allow occasional treats. Remember that treats can be found everywhere. Allow an occasional treat for your kids so they don’t see them as forbidden foods, which only makes more appealing.
- Invite your children to cook. Children who are involved in the planning and preparation of meals tend to be more interested in eating what they have prepared. Have your children help you select foods at the store and then prepare the food with them at home.
Here are two simple and tasty recipes to consider:
Greek Yogurt Parfait
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Mixed berries
- Pour 4 oz. of Greek yogurt in a cup
- Drizzle yogurt with natural honey
- Top with a variety of mixed berries
Corn and Black Bean Salad
- 1 cup of cooked frozen corn
- 2 cups of canned black beans
- 2 tablespoons of diced green onions
- â cup of diced celery
- Â¼ cup of diced cilantro
- Â½ cup of canned salsa
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- Â½ teaspoon of cumin
- â teaspoon of garlic granules
- (Optional) Whole grain corn chips
- Rinse and drain black beans until the liquid runs clear. Then measure two cups.
- Finely dice celery, green onions, and cilantro.
- Combine all ingredients and mix well.
- Serve with whole grain corn chips if desired.