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How to make picky eaters love healthy foods

Nutrition & Wellbeing

Colourful, crunchy, tasty – fruit and vegetables have so much potential. But somehow, some children only want their favourites and refuse certain others. What can you do to ensure your kids eat healthy while having fun? Read on to find out…

Childhood is about fun. It’s about exploration and curiosity. About pushing boundaries and discovering the world. But, sometimes, it also seems to be about developing a sudden and feverish aversion to pumpkin (even though just the day before, it was a vegetable favourite).

Yes, sometimes children act weird when it comes to food, and that can throw even the most relaxed parents into a worry spiral. What about nutrition? If they’re like this at home, what happens when they’re at kindergarten or school? After all, parents just want kids to be healthy and happy – and eat the odd Brussels sprouts.

Well, hold on to your salad bowls, we have some good news – there is a good reason why sometimes kids aren’t enthusiastic about healthy food. More importantly, there are ways you can support them in meeting their nutritional needs and growing their culinary range without inciting the great vegetable wars. Ready?

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Why kids and vegetables don’t always get along

Wondering why your child won’t accept that broccoli is delicious? Don’t blame them, blame evolution. Or maybe thank it. You see, our ancestors survived by distinguishing toxic plants from non-toxic ones. One of the ways they did this was through taste. Specifically, bitterness. If you were to bite down on a toxic plant, you’d notice that it’s bitter. Unfortunately, healthy vegetables – like the broccoli your child won’t touch – also tend to have a slightly bitter taste. So, when your little treasure seals their lips shut, it’s not because they’re being irrational – it’s because their evolutionary warning system is telling them it might not be safe. Luckily, this inherited aversion isn’t permanent.

The fun way to trick evolution

Okay, so evolution might be making things a little tricky. That doesn’t mean you just have to sit by and watch your child ignore their carrots. Quite the opposite. There are a few ways you can help rewire your child’s instincts – and make it fun!

Every positive experience helps to override inherited biases, which means that if you build up positive associations, you can help your child learn to appreciate the good stuff. Wondering how to do that? Here are a few of our top tips:

  1. Grow what you eat – Want engaged kids interested in healthy food? Why not catch a bit of vitamin D while doing some gardening together?

  2. Cook together – Peeling, chopping and preparing fruit and vegetables is a sneaky way to get your kids invested, while having fun and spending quality time together. Even if they don’t want to eat the food they helped create, they’re more likely to give it a taste.

  3. Ignite curiosity – Vegetables vary greatly according to how they’re cooked, so change it up and involve your kids in the exploration. Challenge your kids to compare steamed broccoli to baked broccoli. Ask them about the colour, the texture, the taste. What’s different, which do they like most?

  4. Be an inspiration – You are the ultimate role model. Let your kids watch you enjoy fruit and vegetables as well as dairy, fish, poultry and meat– no pressure or focus on them. If they see how enthusiastic you are, they’ll eventually grow curious and want to try as well.

  5. Be playful – Doesn’t broccoli look like a tree? Wouldn’t chopped carrots make great eyes for a face? Does star-shaped watermelon taste better? What story can a plate tell? Even if your kids don’t eat everything, they’ll build a positive, fun association with healthy food – and that’s the first step to success.

No matter what you try, make sure to take the pressure off. Rewiring evolution takes time. It might take many attempts before a child tries – let alone likes – a new taste. So, encourage kids to try fruit and vegetables but make it safe for them to refuse. Let them know that their taste buds are constantly growing. If not now, maybe they’ll like a vegetable the next time around. Take comfort in knowing that their taste receptors will continue to develop. In fact, by the time your kids are 20, they will have lost roughly half and become less sensitive to bitter tastes.

What to do in the meantime

Of course, it’s easy enough to talk about patience when you’re not plagued with fears about your child’s nutrition. Fortunately, we have great support for that as well. Namely, NutriliteTM Kids food supplements. Since there’s a chance your kids might have the one or two nutritional gaps, using specially formulated supplements is a great way to support their nutrition – and your peace of mind.

Nutrilite Kids offers a great range of yummy food supplements that you can add to your kids’ balanced diet. They include NutriliteTM Chewable Multivitamin for basic growth support1, NutriliteTMChewable Vitmain C for aiding immunity3, and NutriliteTMKids Omega 3 for diet support. This variety of Nutrilite supplements are great for helping healthy bodies grow!

And, if you’re looking for more inspiration, keep an eye on Nutrilite Kids’ new “Building Block” campaign, which is going to offer fun, creative and educational ways for you to integrate nutrition into your children’s day.

1 Contains calcium and vitamin D, which are needed for normal growth and development of bone in children.
2 Calcium is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children.
3 Vitamin C contributes to the normal function of the immune system.

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