Karen Best Wright, B.S., M.A, Heath Educator & Wellness Coach
May grandparents raising their grandchildren (and I'm sure parents too) often deal with children with very overly sensitive palates. Children who like very few foods may be dealing with both psychological and physiological reasons. They are not the same thing.
Sometimes grandparents are extra challenged because they may have gotten custody of children who had never been fed proper nutrition in the first place. So they may hear a lot of, "I don't like that." even before a child has tried it.
I am not a fan of the idea, "Kids will eat when they are hungry." While that may be true, nutritional deficiencies can add to an already stressed child and contribute to unnecessary health problems.
When grandparents have asked me, "How do I get my grandchild to eat vegetables?" I suggest several things.
- If a child really has a severe aversion to a specific vegetable, don't force it. There are a lot of healthy vegetables that can be hidden in foods until healthy foods become more palatable.
- Healthy smoothies are a great way to add many nutrients in a condensed way. Keep in mind you want it to be low in sugar and high in nutrients. It may take some trial an error to find what your child will like, but stay positive and experiment. The smoothie I make for myself, especially when my appetite is depressed, consists of (I rarely measure so these are estimates)
- 1/2 cup pure blueberry juice or blueberries,
- 1/2 cup low-fat, low sugar vanilla yogurt,
- a few frozen strawberries,
- a ripe banana,
- a handful of fresh baby spinach (tasteless),
- a few fresh baby carrots,
- 1Tlb ground flax-seed,
- 1 Tlb ground almonds,
- Maybe a boiled egg white (not yoke) for extra protein.
- If the smoothie is too thick add water or milk to it. If it is too sour, add a tad bit of sugar (not artificial sweetener).
- Using a high quality, powerful blender works best.
- Again experiment. It might be a good idea to have the child help you or that might be the worst idea. Do what works for you.
3. Always have the child join the family for dinner whether or not he eats much and do not make dinner time a fighting match. The smoothies can be their breakfast or their mid-afternoon snack. The important thing is to provide highly nutritious, low sugary foods, even if they only drink 1/2 cup. Be warned, because of the green spinach, it may look like you are drinking swamp water. But trust me, it tastes better than it looks. If the color is disturbing to the child, put the smoothie in a colored cup with a lid and straw or spout.
Just remember high nutrition and low sugar. I will be blogging additional ideas for picky eaters. Eating healthy is important and can be fun if you are creative and not frustrated.
(mother of 8 and grandmother of 14, soon to be 16)