Let's Talk Nutrition: Raising Healthy Kids With Registered Dietitian Kristen Yarker! by Donna John
Is your child a picky eater? Do you want your kids to enjoy a greater variety of healthy foods? Kristen Yarker RD is a 30Second Mom contributor and an expert on raising healthy kids – and she’s shared her tips with us!
Q. Studies show kids who have family meals are healthier eaters. How do you make family meals happen?
A: Why not think beyond dinner? For example, family breakfast. Or family evening/bedtime snack. Plan family meals in your calendar. Just like school, work and extracurricular activities. Make family meals a priority and schedule extracurricular activities around meals (not the other way around).
Q: Discussing how healthy a food is makes kids LESS likely to try it. What do you talk about while eating?
A: My favorite is to play good thing/bad thing. Each person names one good thing and one bad thing about their day. Meals are a good time to talk about upcoming family activities/ events. How about questions that use your imagination? Such as, “What superhero would you be? Why?”
“We always did ‘highs and ‘lows.’ It always made for great conversations.” – @MomLuvsSPORTZ
Q: How often do you give your child a challenging food? “Challenging” = new food or food they haven’t liked yet.
A: Never presenting a challenging food is a sure way to keep a picky eater stuck in their picky ways. Studies show takes average 10 to 30 times for kids to like a new food. Studies also show parents give up after an average of five times. Even if your child doesn’t try it there IS progress. You’re helping them become accustomed to seeing challenging foods. Change up the meal/snack at which you offer challenging foods. Don’t always make it dinner.
Q: Is hiding veggies a good strategy with picky eaters?
A: At least one study has found that kids get more servings of veggies if they’re hidden in other foods. It’s important to also serve obvious veggies to role model choosing to eat veggies. You don’t need to name every ingredient. But also don’t deny that something’s there. It’ll only feed picky kids’ suspicions.
Q: True or False: If a child doesn’t like a food prepared one way, they won’t like it in any preparation.
A: False! So don’t give up on a food entirely just because your child hasn’t liked it in one dish. Try different preparations. Maybe they’ll like it raw or steamed or sautéed or roasted, etc. It’s also normal for young kids to like food prepared in specific shapes (e.g. will eat raw carrots shredded but not as sticks).
“You can also experiment with herbs and seasoning to give veggies a different flavor.” – @rychepet