Modeling good eating habits to your kids isn’t always easy when you’re on the go-go-go, but you can still get nutritious bites into your little picky eaters — one sneaky trick at a time!
Transitioning to solid foods with your tot? Start with cooked fruits and veggies over cereals, says Elizabeth Blessing, owner of Green BEAN Delivery, a local service that delivers fresh produce to your home. “Get the infant in the habit of eating fruits and vegetables right from the start,” she says. Kid favorites include avocado, banana, baked sweet potato, boiled green beans and ripe pear. Blessing is a big fan of introducing fresh solid foods prior to breast weaning. Cut fruits and vegetables into tiny shapes so Baby can feed herself, too. “Quickly, your baby will be eating the same (slightly modified) meal as everyone else at the table, and a family that eats together is a healthier family,” she says.
“Kids are a moving target,” says Missy Chase Lapine, famously known as The Sneaky Chef. “What they like today, they may not like tomorrow.” Lapine says to sneak puréed veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots and cauliflower into pasta sauce, for example, or puréeing spinach and blueberries into brownie batter. “The whole idea is to offer a solution that doesn’t require a total behavior change.” Lapine says it’s important to introduce natural, whole foods to kids in familiar ways, like in pizza or pasta sauces, but also in ways that are fun.
Avoid a child’s life-long aversion to green beans by being creative! Last fall, Lapine introduced the Sneaky Chef product line, including three types of pasta sauce and a no-nut peanut butter, so that busy moms don’t have to fuss with food processors if they don’t have the time.
Blessing advises parents to give picky toddlers choices — broccoli or peas for lunch, or cooked or raw carrots for dinner, for example. “This approach allows them to make the decision, but the parent provides the healthy guidelines. “
Happily, once kids are bigger and making their own choices about food, their tastebuds become more adventurous but you may still have another challenge on your hands. “Teenagers are tricky because it is easier for them to obtain food outside of the house,” says Blessing. Keep being a good role model by eating fresh produce, and always providing fruits and veggies at home — if you’re consistent in both your meals and your message, even phases where kids avoid their produce will likely pass.