Dealing with picky eaters or kids who favor junk food over vegetables can be difficult. On Halloween, your child will collect oodles of candy they will want to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Before Halloween, try to establish some healthy eating habits. This will make the transition from candy back to healthy eating that much easier!
Kid’s Food Ideas and Establishing a Schedule
Make sure that meals occur at the same time every day and include two snack breaks plus plenty of water to avoid hangry temper tantrums and dehydration. To avoid being too rigid, have a “fun day” on the weekend when your family can be spontaneous and venture out to eat.
Plan Meals in Advance
Try meal planning with a calendar, so meals are set a week in advance. Include treat days, when the family goes out for ice cream. Work fruits, vegetables, and various proteins into meals several times a week, to provide your child with a balanced diet. Incorporate healthy options into the meal, such as whole grain bread, fruit salad, hot dogs with spaghetti, broccoli in macaroni and cheese, and milk or water instead of soda to drink.
Use a smaller plate at mealtime. When food fills the entire plate, it seems a larger portion than it is. This prevents kids from taking too much and leaving so much waste. It also creates a balanced portion, so kids can still have a healthy treat for dessert.
Establish Rules: This is What We Are Having
Avoid making a separate meal for every family member. Establish a rule at mealtime that “this is what we are having.” No special orders and no substitutions. This might seem harsh at first, but your child will adjust and learn to eat what is on the plate—making it easier to eat out at new restaurants and try new foods.
Make Healthy Foods a Treat
Emphasize your excitement when you are having grapes, strawberries, or frozen yogurt for dessert. If you model that these healthy treats are delicious, they will follow your behavior and get excited for dessert! Peaches or cherries only come into season certain times a year, so these are a “special treat.”
Make Meals Fun
If your child is hesitant to eat certain foods, make food fun! Create a food face, with spaghetti as the hair, black olives for eyes, and strawberries for a mouth. With a plate smiling back at you, how can you not eat it? Call Brussels sprouts mini cabbages shrunk by a shrink ray! Broccoli florets are trees for mice. Kids also love to dip their foods. A Greek yogurt dip for fruit is healthy and fun for kids to eat.