ages 9-12Wherever you see this key, the activities have been carefully selected for the age groups listed.
You say your kids dart from the table at the sight of anything besides chicken, pizza or PB&J. Getting kids to try new foods can be, well, trying. So here are some kid-tested ideas that are sure to get smiles.Cut food into fun shapes
—use cookie cutters for sandwiches.Fill plates with bright colors
and dish out your creativity.Make up new names
—broccoli florets are trees, hard-boiled egg slices are egg canoes, and cheese chunks are building blocks.Spread it, dip it, top it
—camouflage veggies with yogurt-based dip, flavored cream cheese, peanut butter, or a favorite low-fat sauce.
Navigating mealtimes can prove tricky for parents of picky eaters. But don’t despair—kids go through food phases for lots of reasons, including fear of the unknown. In fact, toddlers and preschoolers may need 10 to 20 exposures to a new food before they accept it, say nutrition experts. Taste, texture, and color can influence a child’s response as well. And sometimes it’s not about the food at all. Peers, advertising, packaging, and a need to control also influence kids’ food choices.
Your own adventurous spirit will go a long way in getting your kids to try nutritious new foods. Set an example by swapping your favorite deep-fried chicken nuggets for broiled fish, suggests nutritionist Connie Evers, MS, RD. Search for middle ground, adds psychologist Patti Zomber. “Food is an area where less control is better,” she advises. Refusing to let kids have certain foods may increase their longing for them. The deprivation puts too much importance on them.
fun with food
Young kids love hands-on learning, so encourage it.
Kids enjoy discovering how food can come from a seed. Plant seeds in a garden or in a pot on a sunny windowsill. One 5-year-old had never wanted to eat green beans until a gardening friend let him nurture and harvest them in her garden. He tried them and loved them! Recommended reading: Don’t Be Picky, Clover by Rita Balducci with Cathy Beylon (Inchworm Press, 1997)
Let young explorers scout uncharted territory in the produce department. Assign them a mission to choose one new item on each shopping excursion.
Make trying new foods an adventure. Say things like, “This Ugli fruit looks so interesting! I hear it’s a combination of tangerine and grapefruit.” Your enthusiasm for sampling new foods will rub off on your children.
moving past picky
Knowledge is power for kids this age, as they trek into unfamiliar territory.
Let your kids occasionally try new junk food. It will satisfy their curiosity, and you can balance the treats with the healthful foods you serve.
Teach what makes certain foods a better choice than others. Then have kids help plan menus based on how they want to nourish their bodies.
Expand your kids’ food horizons by preparing their “picky foods” in a variety of ways: raw, in soups, or with a low-fat dip.
do try this at home!
Experience is a great teacher for older children. Allow room for food experiments while gently guiding them toward balance.
Dub an older kid the family "food critic." Develop an evaluation form to record their opinions on new dishes. The form could use a 1-to-10 system for rating foods by flavor, texture, smell, and appearance.
Focus on one positive long-term goal, such as following the Food Guide Pyramid. Break that goal into achievable objectives, such as eating the recommended servings of green veggies every day for one week.
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