Seven Ideas To Improve Your Child’s Relationship With Food
We all know that nutrition is super important for growing bodies, but when meal times feel more like waging a war against fussy eaters the situation can begin to seem quite bleak! It’s time for a plot twist – substitute that daily battle and bring peace to the kitchen kingdom by following these seven simple steps. Transform your kids into healthy warriors rather than dinner table villains!
For an instant hit of nourishment, your blender is your best friend. Before we get started on allowing fruits and vegetables out of the shadows and onto dinner plates, we can use some masterful disguises to tempt our little ones! When it comes to the veggies, the heroic blender makes for smooth pasta or pizza sauces filled with a medley of goodness. Try mixing Tomatoes with Onions, Garlic, Aubergine, Courgette and Bell Peppers and add a pinch of Oregano for a versatile Italian sauce that they won’t suspect. Patties made from vegetables, Chickpeas and a little egg, flavoured with some Cumin and rolled in chopped nuts can make some Mexican inspired burgers to make them say “Olé”! Blending fruit and making frozen ice lollies makes for a great healthful treat. Freezing whole fruit pieces and then blending them with Milk to the consistency of ice cream will also create what seems like a devilish desert but with hidden virtue. If you’ve got chocolate fans on your hands, try frozen Bananas, Milk and Dark Chocolate. Nobody will ever know!
Make It Visual
Once you feel bold enough to bring nutritious food onto the table undisguised, make the experience fun and tantalising. Play with colours and form! Try using brightly coloured vegetables to make a rainbow salad, use kebab and cocktail sticks to create multi-coloured structures. I love adding a little Beetroot to rice as it makes it a luminous shade of pink. Arranging food into the shape of faces or animals might seem a bit daft, but if it helps your children connect with food in an enjoyable way it can pull them through a difficult phase without even realising they’ve let go of stubborn tendencies!
Create A Connection
Grasping the origins of the things we eat can make mealtimes much more rewarding. See if you can arrange a visit to a local farm to learn how the animals are raised and what growing food looks like. Encourage them to touch the soil and teach them as much as you can about plants and what effort goes into bringing the things we eat to our dinner table. Take it a step further by planting a garden with your kids or keeping a few hens for eggs and you will find their respect for food grows quickly. If space doesn’t allow something so ambitious, some herbs growing on the kitchen counter or a window box full of Cherry Tomatoes will do just as well. Seeing something go from seed or seedling through to ripe and ready to eat is fabulous. You might find it’s a fun new experience for you too!
Discovering Cultures From Around The World
Use food as the vehicle for a journey around the globe. Have tagliatelle with Pavarotti, sweet and sour Chicken on the Great Wall of China, sushi with the Samurai and Hummus with the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt! Stimulating the vivid imaginations your children will help them connect eating the food before them with experiencing the adventures of real-world characters and exciting periods of history. You will stimulate their curiosity in many different directions. Add props like flags to dress your meals adding to the educational aspect of this experience.
Learning How Our Bodies Use Food
Turn those active imaginations inwards to how our bodies function. Explore the tiny science of cells and how nutrients are shuttled around in our blood. Wow them with the facts of cell regeneration – your bone cells last only three months, the stomach is so acidic that those cells replace after only 2-9 days and the tiny little alveoli in your lungs are regenerating on an eight-day cycle too. No wonder we need to eat good stuff all the time! Investigate with your children what nutrients are important for parts of the body they can relate to, draw pictures and layout food on a plate for different body parts – Carrots give the vitamin C we need for our eye health, Spinach gives iron that helps transport the oxygen we breathe to where it’s needed, Milk gives calcium to keep our bones strong so we can leap around, and so on!
Cooking For Themselves
If having food put in front of them doesn’t do the trick, perhaps preparing it for themselves will change the attitude of your little monsters. Get them in the kitchen, stirring and mashing! Give them options to choose from so they have a sense of autonomy in their food preparation. Encourage their efforts and get excited about trying what they make, even if they’ve made a spectacular mess! This will set a great example of finding fun and feeling brave in experimentation. If their projects don’t go well, be spirited about trying again and looking up things on the internet that they might want to have a go at, such as food they’ve seen or read about in fiction and want to experience too. A purple pie? Why not!
Bring In An Expert
Finding the time to bring our children around to confident eating can be tricky. If your schedule is too hectic, or you simply think that someone new will add a different dynamic, why not consider bringing in a private chef to engage your kids with the excitement of dining. Goodness knows that sometimes we can reach a point where we feel our children have completely closed their ears to what we have to say! A private chef will be fantastically equipped to provide a range of different culinary experiences, in the know about nutrients and styles of food, and may well have some genius suggestions of their own to make mealtimes more engaging and less of a handful. Consider it bringing in the cavalry!