I talk to so many parents every day about their kids, food and all of the frustrations that come along with that! I too am a parent and it has always been important to me that my kids eat healthy food and plenty of fruits and vegetables! My kids are 16 and 21 now and they are both pretty healthy eaters, but it didn't happen overnight. I always offered fruits and veggies to them, but they were always more inclined to eat the fruit and leave the vegetables. There was a limited amount of processed food in my cabinet and fridge, but that didn't mean that they didn't eat this type of food from time to time, it just wasn't readily available at home. While it was frustrating from a parental point of view, I learned early on, that the best I could do was have healthy options available. Too many memories of my parents making me choke down broccoli and other unmentionables at our family dinner table still leaves me with an aversion to broccoli!
There is some science behind why its' so hard to get kids to eat the foods that we want them to eat and that we may like.
As written by Amy Fleming in a January 19, 2013 article for The Guardian.
"Infants have around 30,000 tastebuds spread throughout their mouths. By the time we hit adulthood, only about a third of these remain, mostly on our tongues. So eating is an intense experience for the very young. No wonder nursery food is traditionally bland...Babies' tastebuds are configured in line with their craving for fat and sugar-packed milk. "They need more calories in relation to their body weight than at any other time in a person's life," says Mohammed Moghadasian, a professor of human nutritional sciences. Salty and sour flavours, therefore, aren't on their radars yet, and bitter foods are rejected as potential poisons....
Children don't tend to lose their extremely sweet teeth until puberty. The reason they often don't eat their greens could be that the bitter notes in them are amplified by so many tastebuds. And as we keep pairing flavours with experiences and forming prejudices, by the time children's palates are more accepting of vegetable flavours they are negatively associated with parental nagging – an altogether different mood to that of the fun occasions when sweet treats are bestowed."
It is with all of this in mind that I always advise parents to make sure they are supplying many healthy alternatives at home where you can monitor your children's food intake. Only introduce new foods when you are there to see if they like it or not. When it comes to eating lunch at school, it's most important to make sure kids actually eat there lunch! Never pack or order something for lunch you want them to eat if they have never tried it before and liked it. Parents are not there to monitor what our kids eat at school, so if your kid hates veggies, don't pack them or order them for lunch! You can count on it ending up with a friend at their lunch table or most likely the garbage, and then your child is hungry.. Provide or order lunches you know your kids will eat and enjoy because being able to focus for the balance of the school day is more important then if they ate their broccoli or quinoa at lunch.