I’m talking to a group of parents tomorrow about food and health and their kids, as part of the school’s healthy eating programme. My talk will cover picky eaters the basic principles of how to get good nutritious ingredients into the daily diet.
It perfectly natural for kids, at the age of 2-3 to start expressing themselves independently. Food is bound to come into this equation so rather than fighting it, and making mealtime a war zone, just go with it! Try to educate children about nutritious foods away from the dinner table in a more relaxed environment.
If you are trying to introduce a new food, do it slowly. Continue to put it on the plate and don’t make a fuss of it. The child will gradually learn that broccoli is a normal part of a meal, rather than something they ‘have to eat’. Forcing children to eat things simply turns them into the adults I see on a daily basis in my clinic, with an unhealthy relationship to food and using food as a reward or a punishment.
Perhaps the easiest way of ensuring your child is getting the most of a meal is to sneak things in! I know, it may not be ideal, but parents have great success simply blending, pureeing or grinding certain foods into their children’s meals. Hide the foods by mixing them in with something they love – I always thicken my soups with beans or lentils, use carrots or courgettes in my cakes or blended veggies in my pasta sauce. I have created a new section on my website called ‘Healthy Eating tips and Snacks for Kids’ and I’m gradually filling it with tips and recipes.
I’ve also included a recipe below that loads of goodness through sneaky ingredients:
- Sneaky meatballs
- 1 lb lean ground meat
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 egg - beaten
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup broccoli
- ½ cup green peas
- Dash of lemon juice
- 2 tbsp water
- Place broccoli in steamer for 5-10 mins, throwing spinach and peas in the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and place in food processor with lemon juice and water and blend finely.
- Mix puree with tomato puree and add egg, salt and the meat. Wet hands and take small piece of mixture and shape into patties. Place on baking paper on a baking tray. Place in 180 oc oven for 10 mins, then turn over and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Wheat free, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free