This is the 2nd post in our continuing series dealing with kids and food by Clancy Cash Harrison. Thanks Clancy!
By Clancy Cash Harrison MS, RD, LDN owner and author of http://www.healthybabybeans.com and Professor of Nutrition at the University of Scranton.
Does your child refuse to eat specific food groups such as meat, dairy, or vegetables?
As children begin join their family at the table and increase the variety of food consumed; they also begin to imitate the guardian’s food behaviors and habits. A conflict may arise between what the child desires and what the parents considers an appropriate food choice or quantity. This conflict can cause the guardian to label the child as picky or finicky. Behaviors associated with these labels involve avoidance of foods or entire groups of foods. Picky eating might be more representative of acquiring new independence rather than a declaration of actual likes and dislikes.
As with most behaviors, the child’s stage of development can influence food choices. For example, a toddler may prefer finger foods that encourage them to demonstrate their new independence or an older child, who helps with meal preparation, may eat what they cook because a child will often taste what he or she has prepared.
Children often refuse a new food simply because it is unfamiliar to them but do not let the discourage you. It can take up to 10 exposures of a new food before a child accepts it.
However, most caregivers try a new food on average of 2.5 times before deciding the child actually dislikes the food.
It is important to introduce one food at a time to avoid confusion. Consistency with each new food, offering it at least once per day, helps the child to develop a familiarity with that specific food item. Offering new foods more frequently throughout the day will increases a child’s daily intake.
Not only exposure to new foods but also the opportunity to taste a food enhances food acceptance.
Here are specific tips for increasing nutrition for the picky eater:
Tips for the Picky Meat Eater:
- Offer egg, beans, cheese and iron fortified cereal as a substitute to ensure iron intake.
- Cut meat differently (long thin strips) to make it easier for the child to eat as finger food.
- Cook and serve juicy tender dark meat of poultry.
- Offer leafy greens for additional iron. Bake kale chips or puree kale/spinach into sauces, soups, casseroles, omelets, etc.
- Add beans, finely shredded meat and poultry into casseroles, sauce, soups, pizza, tacos.
- Add House of Herbs Blackstrap Molasses (70% RDA of Iron to oatmeal, syrups, etc. for added iron.
- Offer seeds and nuts as snacks or grind up into baked goods.
Tips for the Picky Milk Eater:
- Offer cheese and yogurts as snack.
- Add vitamin D drops to food or beverages.
- Add evaporated milk to smoothies.
- Use milk instead of water when cooking hot cereals, pudding, etc.
- Add evaporated milk to casseroles, bake goods, hot cereals, pudding, etc.
- Let your child drink the milk from a straw.
- Offer almonds, broccoli, kale, pinto beans, okra, and fortified orange juice as great calcium substitutes.
Tips for the Vegetable and Fruit Striker:
- If your child refuses veggies, give more fruit. If your child refuses fruit, give more veggies.
- Cut the veggies and fruit in different shapes.
- Substitute pureed carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, applesauce to baked goods for oil.
- Add pureed veggies to casseroles, baked goods, soups and sauces but still serve the vegetable as a side dish.
- Let your child eat frozen fruit and veggies (don’t defrost them but make sure they are not a choking hazard- over 3 years of age)
- Puree fruit (mango, berries, and banana) and thin with 100% juice make homemade popsicles.
- Make kid theme gardens (pizza garden, taco garden, etc.) To learn how, click here.
- Let your child play with their vegetables. Read my article called, Infant Meet Vegetable, Vegetable Meet Infant.
General Nutrition Tips:
- Offer the foods they strike at the time they are most hungry.
- Concentrate on table manners and not what they are eating.
- Don’t make food the center of the conversation at the meal.
- Keep your meals on a schedule.
- Always provide a favorite food with a new food.
- Do not use food as a reward.
- Do not become a short order cook.
- Do not snack within an hour of the meal.
- Limit juice consumption.
- Let the child decide what and how much he or she will eat.
- Trust your child to know his or her hunger level.
- Let children help with meal planning and preparation.
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Clancy Cash Harrison, MS, RD, LDN will be speaking about picky eating at The Lands at Hillside Farms WinterFest on Jan 27 and Feb 3 at 1:00 PM. Please visit http://www.thelandsathillsidefarms.org/events/ for more information.