There was a time when children helped plant, water, and weed the summer garden. They watched vegetables sprout and grow. Multi-sensory learning was natural. Toddlers helped pull up and then taste each yummy veggie as it ripened. At harvest, moms and their daughters canned and preserved everything the family grew.
Society has moved from an agricultural culture to suburban living, where food is divorced from its source. Did you ever wonder what animal the meat came from, because it all looks the same in Styrofoam® packaging? Is the only soup your family eats from a can or box?
Gabriella takes a big bite out of a juicy apple.
Today, many vegetables are purchased frozen or canned. Fresh vegetables from the produce department come layered in plastic and everything has a sticker attached. Mom or Dad are the only ones in the family who touch the food before it’s eaten. Bread used to be made with whole grains. Breakfast cereal was made from scratch and was always hot. Candy was a treat, not a daily routine. Milk and eggs came fresh from the dairy.
Most moms will occasionally bake cookies or cupcakes with their children, even though kids don’t need encouragement to eat sweets. Set aside at least one day a week in which your children will help you prepare a meal. When your children help with dinner, the food is always more interesting. You may even find that you have a budding chef.
Especially for the picky eater, incorporating ways for her to help prepare meals will definitely increase interest in eating veggies and other whole foods. Although it’s time consuming to have a youngster in the kitchen during meal preparation, it’ll most likely be the most rewarding of all the things you integrate into mealtimes. Think of various ways to include you child in the preparation of new (or previously refused) foods.
To encourage your child to become more interested in nutritious foods, let her help you with their purchase and preparation. The grocery store can be a great teaching experience, when your child is involved in the process. Pick out an item from the produce department which she’s never eaten. Then, let her carry it while you’re in the store. Take this opportunity to discuss its attributes (color, texture, scent, etc.). If you have an older picky eater, ask that he read the nutrition label to identify trans fat that may be a hidden ingredient on items. Ask how many grams are in a teaspoon and then have him figure out the number of teaspoons of sugar in a can of pop or a container of fruited yogurt. Older kids can peel potatoes, write a grocery list, use blenders and hand mixers, read recipes and retrieve all the items needs.
A preschooler is capable of helping with meal preparation, although she still requires assistance. Have her retrieve ingredients from the refrigerator and pantry. Have her help measure ingredients for a recipe. Even a preschooler can toss a salad and use a plastic knife to spread butter or jelly. Look for other tasks your cutie can accomplish by herself: mixing in vegetables, combining ingredients, placing the meat and cheese on a sandwich, and setting and clearing the table.
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