Creative Meal Time Tips
There are times when children are not interested in eating the food that has been placed in front of them. This can seem even more common when it’s a new and/or healthy food. Rather than give up on serving healthy or otherwise simply unique foods, how do you change their behavior or pique their interest in trying the food?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers good ideas to overcome this mealtime battle:
Try a New Look:
Consider cutting foods in different shapes, including slicing wraps into rounds, use small cookie cutters or have the kids help cut shapes out of soft foods. Use a blunt toothpick to make mini kabobs.
Feature the Rainbow:
Fruits and vegetables are naturally a multitude of colors, providing eye appeal with their natural appearance. Consider placing the cut pieces on a white plate to bring out their natural hues.
Size it Down:
Serve bite-size cubes of cheese and chicken, small melon balls, tiny globes of mozzarella cheese, mini muffins or pizzas using English muffins.
Vary the Texture:
We all prefer to have a variety of textures within a meal. Think about texture when building your menu. Is everything soft, smooth, or crunchy? Change it up and add a little bit of each.
Tell a Story:
Check out food-related books from the library and read them to the children. Learn about where foods come from and share this knowledge when serving the foods. Tell stories to them about who prepared the food during food production. Children are eager to learn, even about their foods.
Outside of the eating experience, expose the children to smells that may be used in cooked or baked goods. Smell herbs and spices, and talk about foods that pair well with them.
Have the children help you brainstorm fun(ny) names for fruits and vegetables, to add some extra appeal.
Before cooking with fruits and vegetables, have the children wash their hands and then sort the foods by color. This will allow them to touch and feel the produce, and increase excitement before eating them.
Enjoy the Meal:
Kids enjoy modeling after grown-ups so walk the talk and enjoy the meal alongside the children. Show them how tasty the foods can be!