There’s definitely no denying that kids more often than not are picky eaters.
And while restaurants these days are pursuing healthier and more inventive kid’s meals, enticing fast food ads abound and relentlessly hound our senses.
So what’s a responsible parent to do? Other than earnestly encouraging the little ones to eat their greens whilst failing 90% of the time, I suggest a heaping of vigilance and keeping the 5 bullet points below in mind.
1. THE PACKED LUNCH. As they get older and start schooling, prefer to prepare packed lunches instead of opting for cafeteria food. In packing a well balanced lunch, use light but good containers so as not to keep them from getting squashed. Keep it balanced. They should include protein (meat, fish or eggs), a starch(wheat bread, potatoes or pasta) and at least one portion of fruit & vegetables. The basic food groups in it will not only nourish them but more so the love and care you put in.
2. KEEP IT NATURAL. Avoid processed foods; be keen on buying only from natural, homemade and organic sources. Below are essential food with their respective nutrients to keep in mind when planning their lunches and all other meals for that matter.
- For Protein, vitamin D and Iron, give them at least 2 portions of fish a week , the rest of the days you can leave for red meat.
- For Calcium; milk, cheese, yogurt and nuts are good sources.
- Give them Real Fruit instead of fruit juices. Real fruit have less sugar and more Antioxidants and Phytonutrients. Bananas are the handiest fruits, no need for peeling and chopping.
- Stick a food chart on your fridge, matching your food list with the vitamins & nutrients they provide. Also, remember that Vitamin A is for the eyes; B is for muscles, C for healing, D for bones and E for skin
3. MAKE VEGGIES FUN. Keep in mind that first and foremost they need to be “friends” with their food. The lunch you carefully prepared this morning will go to waste if your kids “haven’t met them yet”. Get them involved in and around the kitchen. Show them how to fully appreciate the colors and textures of food, if they are old enough, let them peel apples, chop tomatoes, slice and arrange cucumbers. Make it a fun learning experience for them. Keep them handy; carrot sticks and celery sticks are good options. Also preparing a cheese, peanut butter or sour cream dip together with veggies, make it a tastier experience for them.
4. BREAD SHOULDN’T BE BORING. Bread makes meals more filling hence making it an essential meal staple. It is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Always choose whole meal or multi grain instead of white. Most kids find these kinds of bread bland and a bore, make their choices more interesting by serving different varieties, shapes and sizes. Toast and sweeten them up by adding spreads such as butter, home made jam or marmalade, organic white cheese or honey.
5. WATER. Thirst is not the only consequence for lack of water but also fatigue, irritability, headache, listlessness and lack of concentration among others. Always pack WATER. We can get water from food and other beverages, but not all of them are as vital as water. Discourage sugary flavored drinks, and encourage water as a drink staple. Additionally, remind your children to drink water especially after sports or play, as their mind can be hyper active and may be too busy to feel that they are in fact –thirsty.
Samantha Samonte is a writer for Culinary One, a website about culinary careers, cuisines and food. Helping aspiring chefs to find the best cooking schools. She spends the rest of her time living life to the fullest in the company of her laptop and creative writing prowess.