I know for many this is the happiest time of the year when kids go back to school. Kids are bored and driving you nuts so thank god for September. Of course the dark side of school is those dreaded lunches. It was so much simpiler back when we were kids, peanut butter sandwiches, peanut butter crackers, but now no nuts in general. Plus many other allergies that are making it increasinly more difficult for those pickey eaters. So now you are left pulling your hair out to feed your kids. So lets talk about some options and about picky eaters in general. Time to take back your power and sanity where food is concearned.
What did your parents tell you when you didn't want to eat something? For me it sure wasn't...oh honey let you make some mac and cheese then. Hell no! It was do I look like a restaurant, eat it or don't eat! Pretty simple. If you really hated it, at least you tried it but most often it wasn't about hate it was about control. But that control was cut off at the knees because no way was my mom budging. So as parents, caregivers, aunts, uncles etc. it is time to really get back to basics with kids, stop giving them excuses of they just won't eat it. Kids will not starve themselves, you think they will but they really won't. It may take them about 9 times in trying something before they like it but you got to get them to try it. I know it's sometimes easier to give in. Like most things we would love to take just the easy route, but it isn't always the best route. Long term outcomes can really suffer if we let kids just eat processed foods and junk. The number of cases of ADHD, autism, learning disorder and overall behaviour is severly on the rise. And more and more studies are proving that a great deal of it is caused by what we eat and overall food allergies and sensitivities. Also more and more information is coming out about the gut, brain barrier and how that is affecting many of these issues as well. It's about keeping our gut healthy through what we are putting into our bodies.
So let's go back to how the heck do I get my kid to try new foods. Here are a few tips to get them involved and try new things.
1. Don't be a restaurant.
2. Get your child involved in the process of shopping, preparing and if old enough cooking the food. Kids tend to be much more engaged if they are involved. Have them pick out one new vegetable and one new fruit each week and then look together on how to cook or prepare that would be yummy and fun.
3. Respect your child's appetite or lack of one. If they aren't hungry don't force food on them. Also don't bribe your child with a certain food to eat another. It will just become a power struggle and your child will associate mealtime with anxiety.
4. Stick to a routine, have meals and snacks around the same time. Only give small amounts of milk and juice with the meal. Too much between will fill them up, instead offer water in between meals.
5. Be patient. Again, it sometimes takes many times of trying a food for your child to like it.
Encourage your child by talking about a food's color, shape, aroma and texture — not whether it tastes good. Serve new foods along with your child's favourite foods.
6. Set a good example, if you aren't eating well, they certainly won't .
7. Be creative, put chopped veggies on top of spagetti or cut up fruit on cereal.
8. Don't offer dessert as a reward
Now let's talk some ideas for lunches.
1. Veggies and dip
2. Crackers and hummus
3. Crackers and guacamole
4. Sliced apples with sunbutter
5. Wraps with shaved meats and cheese and veggies and add hummus for dressing
6. Boiled eggs
7. Cheese and crackers
8. Cut up fruit with a yogurt dip (kids love dipping foods)
9. Taco wraps, cream cheese, salsa, ground beef or turkey, salsa, shredded lettuce and cheese, roll and cut into pieces.
10. Egg omelet muffins, great for breakfast and lunch!
Here is a fun idea for kids and tasty too. Try some kabobs.
Chicken Cobb Salad
slices of turkey
Thread small pieces of fresh mozzarella, slices of pepperoni, cherry tomatoes and bite-sized pieces of flatbread onto skewers.
Chicken Cobb Salad
There's a lot going on with this kabob. One of everything is the way to go. Include a side of ranch for dipping.
Thread a bite-sized piece of grilled chicken, lettuce, avocado, cherry tomato, bacon, and a half of a boiled egg onto each skewer.
Lightly toast a piece of sourdough bread and cut into quarters. Thread bread quarters, one slice of turkey folded in half and half again, bite-sized piece of Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, and a chunk of avocado. Repeat if you have room.
Lightly toast a piece of sourdough bread and cut into quarters. Thread a bread quarter, bacon, lettuce, and a cherry tomato. Repeat.
Slide pieces of salami, marinated mozzarella balls, small basil leaves, and cherry tomatoes onto each skewer.
Cut tortilla into strips.
Cut cheddar cheese and grilled chicken into chunks.
Fold tortilla strips in half or thirds and slide onto the skewer. Add cheddar chunks and grilled chicken. Repeat until skewer is fully loaded.
Hopefully these tips make things a little easier. Try to avoid unhealthy white breads and crackers. Use Rye or pumpernickle bread. Or Luke's crackers are super yummy with no nut products. Always include lots of fruits and veggies, and try the dips, if you can make them even better, Epicure is really great for this. I use them all the time. Instead of using sour cream, you can use Greek yogurt, which will give them more proteins. There are also lots of healthy snacks you can make that are easy and fast. I'll post recipes, so keep your eye out for them.
Happy back to school moms and dads!