August is Kids Eat Right month and we think of it as a time to share ideas and tips to help kids learn about balanced healthy eating. They don’t need to learn to be perfect eaters who love vegetables (who is really?) but instead to teach them how to enjoy all types of food and learn about balance and moderation. The Kids Eat Right logo and campaign went through a very public debate earlier in the year with the announcement and subsequent withdrawal of a Kids Eat Right seal being printed on foods, initially starting with Kraft cheese. I’m not going to decry the action here but rather point out that the mission of Kids Eat Right is a good one, one that we can all get behind.
Most kids, if not all, will go through phases and be labeled as picky eaters during time their young life. Don’t panic, they’ll grow out of it. The main thing is to not lose your cool, keep offering a variety of healthy foods, and keep encouraging them to try new foods. If you are looking for more tips for your picky eaters, this post from Sally over on Real Mom Nutrition has some great suggestions.
Snack time can be a good time to experiment with new foods for your kids to try. The portion sizes are small, it often doesn’t require a lot of cooking, and if they don’t like it hopefully the battle is over before the next meal. Making snacks fun and exciting definitely goes a long way to peak your kid’s interest in trying new things. Katie from Mom to Mom Nutrition has a great post with snack ideas for toddlers.
A good idea to keep in mind is the MyPlate graphic when figuring out what to cook for dinner. As long as you are offering your child a variety of foods from each of the major food groups, they should have the freedom to choose what they want to eat. A lot of moms have found success with the sectional plate so that each food gets its own cubby and you avoid the argument of foods touching on another. Check out this blog post from Kristy over on Chocolate Slopes for how to end the mealtime battles (she has 3 kiddos so she has a good idea what she’s talking about!).
Helping kids learn about food, nutrition, and the balance of healthy eating and sweet treats is a constant work in progress. Try not to get too frustrated if you have a picky eater, just remember you aren’t the only parent going through that (dietitians’ kids aren’t perfect eaters!) and it will eventually pass!
Enjoy the final days of summer vacation with your kids and exploring healthy fun food as a family!