Toddler Nutrition Tips From Dr. Alan Greene
August 12, 2012
By Guest Blogger, Dr. Alan Greene, Founder of DrGreene.com, the KidGlyphs iPhone App, and Healthy Child Advisory Board Member
Healthy Child Healthy World asked Dr. Greene : Do you have any nutrition and healthy eating tips for parents of kids in this stage?
According to Dr. Greene, the five greatest motivators for preschool children to eat healthy foods are:
1. Imitation. If the foods in the house are healthy, kids will pick their favorites from among healthy snack and meal choices.
2. Mastery. The more kids are involved in meal prep, the more likely they are to enjoy healthy food. Just helping to slice a tomato helps increase its appeal. For young toddlers learning language, just learning the names of foods can make them seem tastier.
3. Tasty choices. Often kids’ fruit alternatives are restricted to apples and bananas, and maybe grapes or oranges. Many kids love peaches, tangerines, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, and pineapple. Whole-grain pancakes can be a hit. The younger you start, the quicker they will develop their tastes in these directions. Kids can grow to love new foods with repeated small tastes.
4. Fun presentation. Try a whole-grain pancake with a strawberry for a nose, kiwi slices for eyes, and banana for the mouth. Brush its teeth with the fork before eating (since after eating it won’t have any teeth left!). Try corn on the cob served standing up (it’s a rocket ship). Use your imagination and let your child use theirs.
5. When all else fails, sneak it in. Make zucchini bread, carrot muffins. Add shaved vegetables or pieces of fruit to virtually any baked good. Two recently published cookbooks, The Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious, offer more ideas on how to hide the healthy stuff. Kids can get repeated exposures to food, increasing the chance they’ll like it later, without even knowing it.
I’ve heard it said that the ancient Greeks defined children as short humans who don’t like vegetables. Now that we have mass advertising, children’s fun meals, and peer pressure, the battle is all the harder. But the battle is worthwhile, and it can certainly be fun. The battle should never be with your kids. Never push. Entice them, persuade them, teach them. Battle bad nutrition.