Today we’re going to talk to you about nutrition and healthy eating.
Many parents have just thrown up their hands and said, “Ugh! Will we ever get there?” Don’t worry, you will!
In our clinics, we have some kiddos with significant feeding issues. This blog post is not for you. If your child is eating fewer than 10 items he or she needs to be screened or evaluated for feeding therapy.
If your kids are having so many issues with food that you feel like in order to get food in them you’re having to let them have whatever they are willing to eat, that’s often a sign that you need feeding therapy.
For those of you already in feeding therapy, you are doing what you need to do and you will see progress!
This is aimed more at the kids who prefer to eat chicken nuggets, burgers, pizza, etc. They could eat healthier, but they prefer to eat the things that are not healthy.
When we are younger, we don’t think about how important it is to eat healthily. We don’t see the consequences of eating unhealthily. As we get older, we understand better. I certainly curb more of my unhealthy eating tendencies now than when I was 5 because I understand more and care more. Here are a few ways you can get your child interested in a healthier diet:
1. Talk about it.
It’s always a good idea to discuss with your kiddos what a balanced diet is. Usually, they talk about this in schools, too. We want to make sure they’re aware they should be eating fruits and vegetables.
2. Have them help.
We also want to get them motivated to eat healthier things. One thing we do here, even with our kids in feeding therapy, is to involve them in food preparation. Have your kids cook with you! If you want them to try things, they’re more likely to try something if they’ve cooked it.
This is a great family activity, especially in the summer. Have your kids do some meal planning! Have them go to the grocery store with you to shop for the ingredients. You can talk about all kinds of things at the grocery store! You can point out the differences between frozen food and fresh food. You can show them nutrition labels. These are fascinating things for your kiddos, and they love them!
3. Ease off at restaurants.
I would not work on healthy eating at a restaurant. Restaurants typically have kids’ menus with those same 5 unhealthy items on them. Don’t worry about it there! Let them choose what they will eat, and continue working on healthy eating at home.
4. Ask them about what they might try.
I also recommend that you sit down with your kids and talk about what vegetables they might want to try. Some of our kids are picky eaters and don’t like to eat certain colors or textures. They are repelled by certain smells.
When we order pizza, I might sit down with the child and decide with them which vegetables we are going to have on the pizza. Then we’ll choose a meat.
5. Get creative.
Some parents puree vegetables and creatively hide them in other foods, such as meatloaf. Their kids don’t even know they’re eating vegetables!
6. Don’t force it.
I never recommend force-feeding your child. That’s going to cause trauma, and it’s probably not going to work. What you can do is work with them on the ability to touch the food with their tongue, or maybe even to be in the same room with the food.
Your Next Step
Each kiddo is different, and each kiddo’s ability is different. Each kiddo’s flexibility with change is completely different. Make sure you key into what works for your kiddo. You’ll get there! Please reach out to us if you have any questions, or need more ideas about how to help your child eat a healthier diet.