Many children are reluctant to empty their plates. Adults must imperatively give an example. Here are the basics of feeding little ones and practical advice that parents can apply daily. It’s a sort of common thread to optimize children’s food education. Making them aware of the value of food is most important. Now the question is-
How to make your kid understand the value of food?
- Prepare the proper diet for your children
- Set a Good example
- Bestow the desire for proper food use
- Make them understand table manners
- Give less food at first so that they understand its value
- Make them learn the authentic taste
- Do not get angry when he is not able to finish the plate
- Initiate The red light / green light system
- Take them to the store, neighboring farm, or petting zoo
- Teach them how food grows.
- Make dishes together
- Keep a particular period for offering lessons on the value of food
- Be patient about the development of your child’s understanding
- Share the meal together
- Do not let the child choose the menu
- Involve the child Into Activities
Here is how you can teach the value of food
Prepare the proper diet for your children
From an early age, the diet of children must be varied, balanced, and rich in flavor. Faced with a child who refuses to eat what is served to him, many parents, often disappointed, are ready to do anything as long as their child gives in until bending to his slightest taste whims.
The consequences of this food refusal can be significant, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, growth disorders, concentration problems, psychological difficulties, a leaden atmosphere at the table, stress, incomprehension, nervousness, or even punishment. It is a situation that can lead to consulting a child psychiatrist or a dietitian.
Offer the right influence to your child
It is the parents who have the most influence on the eating habits of their offspring. They represent a benchmark in the field. Children learn to eat, in the first instance, what their parents prepare and eat.
This imitation behavior emerges at an early age, in fact, from the introduction of solid foods into the diet. It is, therefore, necessary, in this learning, to diversify tastes and to encourage children as much as possible.
Set a Good example
“If mom reads the newspaper at the table, why can’t the children play or color? If dad doesn’t like a dish and says it openly or refuses to eat a vegetable, why can’t the children? Could they not behave the same? “
This reasoning may seem very simplistic, but it seems logical in the minds of the youngest. It is, therefore, necessary to set an example, whether at the table or in terms of overall eating habits (fruits and vegetables, sodas, sweets, etc.).
Children learn and learn from adults.
This is the reason why it is strongly recommended to take as many meals as possible with them. Do not hesitate to proclaim loud and clear what you like. Thank your spouse regularly for cooking. Over time, the child will do the same. The television must be switched off and mobile phones placed elsewhere than on the table during the meal. It is a privileged moment to dialogue, to cultivate the family spirit.
Bestow the desire for proper food use
Colorful crockery and toppings, cutlery with a playful or attractive design (adapted to their age) catch the eye and appeal to children. Ask them to set the table with you, give ideas, choose the cutlery. This contributes to the pleasure of the meal.
The child must build benchmarks. He must eat at a fixed time and, if possible, at the same place. Create a specific routine: you don’t swallow anything and everything, where and when you want, at any time of the day.
Make them understand table manners
Invite children to sit at the table when the meal is almost ready, not when it is already served. They will thus quietly abandon the activities in progress when you call them. To prevent them too late may cause haste and nervousness.
Give less food at first so that they understand its value
Do not fill the child’s plate to the brim. It is best to initially offer a single potato, a small piece of meat, and some vegetables and then serve it again. If your child does not have much of an appetite and is faced with a heap of food, he will be immediately discouraged.
It is preferable to start with a reduced portion, supplemented by ironing (diversified: he can take back a little of this meat that he appreciates, but he must accompany it with some vegetables).
Make them learn the authentic taste
The child’s taste is neither acquired nor definitive. It changes over the years and culinary discoveries. This is also the case for adults.
The taste of pleasure is constantly evolving. Just because the kid didn’t like green beans the first time doesn’t mean he’ll never eat them again. Repeat the experiment regularly. Prepare them differently.
The revisited recipe can work wonders. Serve them with another meat, another sauce. After about eight to nine attempts, the children eventually get used to a new taste and ideally appreciate it. We must therefore give them time for discovery.
The incorporation of veggies is a must
Do not hesitate to incorporate vegetables and meats that have not been appreciated in other recipes. This approach can hold some delightful surprises! If the child is strongly resistant to the mere sight of food, it is essential to go further and encourage him to taste it in other forms.
Obviously, only when he has taken pleasure in it that you tell him that the spinach he hated so much, he appreciates them.
Do not get angry when he is not able to finish the plate
As much as it is not advisable to get angry with the child if he does not finish his plate, so do not promise to reward him if he does. Indeed, the food will not present any value as such, which will not awaken the child’s taste.
If a child asks for a cookie or a treat shortly after leaving the table, it is because they haven’t had enough. It’s obvious but not enough for him.
Does the child have a say?
The child does not have to decide on the menu. However, that does not prevent asking his opinion. So, what does he prefer between two vegetables? Between two meat preparations? Between two sauces?
As long as the meal is varied and balanced and provides the necessary nutritional contributions, empowering the child is a positive attitude in many ways.
Learned young is done old.
Good eating habits are the basis of a healthy life, so passing on that message to your children is a goal for every parent. You also want to teach them some values related to sustainable food. But how do you get started?
Initiate The red light / green light system
Shopping with young children is no fun. If you are standing at the checkout, the toddler must pass entire rows of candy, biscuits, chewing gum, lollipops, etc., by your hand. Therefore it can be helpful to work very early with a system in which types of food are classified under one of the three traffic lights.
A green light stands for healthy food and that you can eat as much as you want. Orange means: not so healthy. It can be done at regular intervals but in moderation. Food associated with a red light should only be eaten on special occasions. Children are naturally curious, and it can quickly become a game to guess ‘the appropriate traffic light.’
Take them to the store, neighboring farm, or petting zoo
Teach children from an early age that healthy food is part of everyday life. Teach them about the profession of an apple farmer, vegetable grower, livestock farmer. Explain how fruit and vegetables end up in the shop from the field via the auction. Emphasize local food production.
Encourage the child to make the connection between the apple in hand and the apple trees nearby (even if, of course, that particular apple was not specifically picked from that particular tree).
If a child is allowed to choose between a (Belgian) apple from the tree ‘from the street’ and an apple ‘from a distant land’ (such as Chile), nine out of ten will choose the local, tangible variant.
Teach them how food grows.
The fact that food does not just end up in the store and on your plate but is hidden behind a process that takes time and effort can help get children to eat healthily consciously. Again, take advantage of a child’s natural eagerness to learn to explain how fruits and vegetables grow.
That a new potato plant can emerge from half a potato is nothing short of a miracle in the eyes of a toddler.
Tell them that the sun they love to play in also makes fruits and vegetables grow. Maintaining a vegetable garden together is, of course, ideal for this, so feel free to reserve that sunny corner in the garden to grow tomatoes with the children.
Make dishes together
Following the point above, cooking is also an essential part of learning to eat healthily. It is crucial that children do not take (healthy) food for granted. Make food tangible and present in their existence.
When they understand what’s involved in a healthy meal, a combination of miracles and miraculous processes, they may be less inclined to ask for a boring “ready-to-eat” bag of potato chips.
Keep a particular period for offering lessons on the value of food
After an opening phase, the child becomes much less curious. This food “neophobia” is very common. “
A phase of closure begins around 18-24 months, up to 7 or 8 years on average. But the duration depends on the children! During this period, 75% of the children are reluctant to face foods that they consider unknown”.
Be patient about the development of your child’s understanding
So how do you develop a child’s curiosity for new tastes? How to teach him the pleasure of eating? Above all, you have to be patient. Repeated exposure to the food is significant. “We must not stop at a first refusal, or the refusal of a food appreciated before. Repetition is necessary, in a familiar and pleasant environment”.
So, if a child is reluctant to eat zucchini puree for the first time, be persistent with this green vegetable, offering it one or more other times, a little later. Zucchini will no longer be seen as unknown so much. The familiarity leads to better acceptance of food.
The social context of the meal is also essential in the education of taste and the pleasure of eating. “As a parent, we do taste education with our child: live, eat, share their feelings, together.” So eat and enjoy your meal with pleasure.
The child learns by observation. Besides, create a warm and reassuring atmosphere at the table, without pressure or threats to finish a plate of spinach.
If you do so, then we never teach him to love by tasting repeatedly. So prepare a collective meal to share, without distinguishing the dishes according to each one.
In short, you should not adopt a behavior that is neither too permissive (following the child’s suggestions, between fries and pasta) nor too authoritarian (by forcing him to finish his plate).
Involve the child Into Activities
Engaging the five senses and cooking together is also an effective way to understand better and appreciate different foods. Offer your child to handle, touch, prepare and cut. More generally is to participate in the picking or preparation of the dishes.
For older children, giving more value and symbolism to food is essential. It is necessary to visit a farm, chat with a vegetable producer at the market, and bake a cake. All of this helps give meaning to food. Finally, so as not to bring food complexity! Use your common sense and your intuition so as not to kill pleasure and spontaneity. Thus, we transmit certain dietary tranquility.
From the age of 2, many children experience a period of food neophobia. Along the same lines, experts suggest establishing a rule at the table. The child must taste a dish or food at least three times. You have to taste several times to appreciate. The more you taste, the more you love. That said, the researcher specifies that a “child does not have to like all vegetables.”
The objective of the meal is not ‘finish your plate!’. It is instead ‘what is on the plate? What are the colors?? So you can encourage your toddler to discuss food, to describe how it feels. Talking about food makes them familiar.
Have fun with the proposals made to the child in associations of colors, different cuts. Take care of the presentation of the dishes. And get the child used to different tastes, looks, and textures. Thus, zucchini can be grilled in the oven, steamed, prepared as a gratin, like a quiche, as a soup.
Frequently Asked Questions
Allergy: Do children have to bring their food to the daycare if they have an allergy?
If the pediatrician has found an allergy, a corresponding certificate should be presented to the daycare center.
Depending on the type of catering in the daycare center, a solution should be found in a conversation that enables the child to participate in the meal. Sometimes this can include bringing your own meal from home, depending on how severe the restrictions are.
Vegetables: what can I do if my child does not eat vegetables?
Does your child really not eat any vegetables at all? Often, only certain types of preparation are rejected because they are “so hard” or “tastes so strange.”
So offer the different kinds of vegetables in different versions: raw with dip, in a salad, casserole or stew. Vegetables are particularly easy to hide in pureed sauces or soups.
Milk: My child does not like milk. What to do?
Offer your childless sweetened cocoa, yogurt, or curd milk that you have cooked yourself. Homemade mixed milk drinks are often enjoyed with fresh fruit—puree bananas or berries with milk or buttermilk.
Fruit and vegetables: do the children need to peel fruit and vegetables?
It is unnecessary to peel fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, or cucumber, which are usually eaten with the skin on.
The shell contains, among other things, dietary fiber and also the so-called secondary plant substances such as plant dyes. Well-washed fruits and vegetables with peel have advantages.
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“Love, patience, and guidance – these three words describe me the best. I founded “TheRightParent” dedicated to helping parents navigate the ups and downs of raising children. As a father of two children, I have been studying the principles of effective parenting for over a decade and my passion lies in sharing my insights with others. My mission is to empower parents to become better guides for their children