If you’re a parent, there’s no doubt that you at some point have worried about what your kiddos eat. If you’re like me, discovering ROCK was a huge celebration as you found a way to feed your kids good, wholesome food with a background you believe in. I know I want my kids to be healthy into adulthood and not be saddled with diseases and obesity. To do this I know I need to serve healthy, nutritious food, and model great behavior. But what do you do when your kid is picky and doesn’t eat the meal you’ve lovingly prepared?
I'm no expert (is anyone?), but here are some tips that have worked with my kids to not only EAT but to eat nutritious ROCKin’ meals. (I’d love to hear what works in your home as well).
- Get them involved. Let them help you order and select what you receive from ROCK. Come volunteer! It was my first time volunteering at ROCK that I discovered my youngest son liked strawberries (organic, local, and delicious strawberries). Volunteering is a great way to expose your kids to the ROCKin’ foods in a relaxed setting. It’s also a great time to let them make friends with other kiddos who eat similar to what they eat. Thus eating real food becomes more normal, and eating processed, packaged food becomes the outlier.
- Offer them a staple (something you KNOW they like and have eaten in the past) at every meal. And offer something new. To help with this, each week you can add one unknown item to your basket to try. This will allow you to expose your kids to something new without overwhelming them.I make sure I offer one "staple", in a well-liked form at every sitting. Does it get old? Yes. Do they eat? Yes. And that's what I'm going for. At least I know they’re eating SOMETHING and I can feel okay with them going to bed without starving. You can also offer a staple in a form they like and in a new presentation. I don't do this every meal, but every few days, I might offer steamed green beans (a staple) and sauteed green beans with lemon juice (a new presentation). I do this when it's easy for me to do. If I'm making green beans for the meal, I might simply take a few out before seasoning them so I have some they like before I give them more.
- Change out the staple with something similar. My son loves rice and pasta, so I started expanding it and showing him other forms of pasta and grains that look similar, but they're slightly different. We make couscous, quinoa (often available at the ROCK store, which is where I grabbed my most recent bag), etc. Or we serve thick spaghetti noodles, angel hair, penne, etc. The goal is to get them to slowly progress their palate.
- Make eating fun. I'm not very good at this, but my husband is so I’ll share the tip anyway. Remember as babies you might have done the airplane with the spoon landing in their mouth? And then once they could hold their own spoon, it seems like all the fun went away. That happened at our house. At dinner one evening, my oldest son was having his usual "I don't want to eat anything you offer me" whine. My husband took a toothpick and put it in his veggie- and a new fun technique of eating took place. If you have little kiddos (as in 6 months) you might look into baby-led weaning which better incorporates your ROCK produce in its whole form and helps kids discover real, authentic food from the beginning. You can also incorporate counting, shapes, letters. Cut veggies with a cookie cutter, or cut large slices of cheese and hand your kid a butter knife to make his own designs. It’s only natural that some of the leftover pieces will end up in their mouth.Serve it up in different ways. I was being lazy one day and I put green beans in a colander on the table. My son thought that was the funniest thing ever and ate the whole thing. Yes, all of the green beans. So now, sometimes I serve dinner in the colander. Or I might buy a new plastic bowl in a really bright color of his choosing, or we might have pans as plates and big serving spoons as utensils.
- Include them in the conversation. It might not be the best political discussion at your dinner table, but you're getting the concept going. And when they talk, they eat slower (meaning mealtime lasts longer), they're not paying attention to all the things they DON'T want to eat. Instead they're engaged with you and will begin to imitate the behavior they’re seeing..
- Don't worry about keeping kids at the table until everyone is done. My goal right now in this season of my kids’ lives is to get nutritious foods into their bodies. I don’t make them sit at the table until we’re all done. I let them leave them with the impression that dinner was fun and they weren't being held hostage. Kids want control. This is a small thing to let them have control over.
- Give them juice! And by juice I mean juice your own apples and carrots and whatever fancies you from the ROCK produce basket. My kiddos love homemade juices and smoothies and every other week when we unload our produce after picking up from our drop, they will pick out what they want in their smoothies.
- Relax. There will be days when your kids eat nothing and there will be days that your kids will eat like a horse- a hungry hungry horse. Look at what your child eats over a period of a few days, or even a week.
I think of our home as a sanctuary. In our home we are free from the battles of the world. We don’t allow certain music, or tempting TV. We encourage niceness, soft voices, peace, and laughter. When my family comes home from school or work or visiting a friend’s home, they feel at home because the tone is one of safety for their souls. Along those same lines, the food we allow into our home is nutritious, safe food that will build their bodies. Each item we bring into the home will either strengthen my family or seek to weaken them. As much as I can (because I have many weaknesses), I choose to strengthen them. I feel so blessed that ROCK can be a part of our safe home environment.
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