We know what children want to eat. As a matter of fact, we already have a running list in our heads: nuggets, hotdog, chicken—rinse and repeat. No doubt, we want our children to eat up because it’s needed for growth. According to the American Heart Association, toddlers need as much as 1,400 calories a day to match their dietary requirement and activity level.

But not all calories are the same. They need to be getting a balanced diet of dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables, and grains—with a sprinkle of fat in between. However, that running list above isn’t exactly what we call “balanced.”

What’s more challenging is: children know what they want to eat and they want to eat them all the time. Picky eaters.food pic

Are you worried that your child isn’t getting enough vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients that are vital in their continuing growth and health? Let me share with you these tips that’ll help you cope with picky eaters and get them to eat healthy–these surely helped me!

  1. Make some quick and simple “edits.”

I have a friend that likes to eat eggs. By themselves, eggs can be a bit boring. So what he does is he adds chopped tomatoes, onions, and canned tuna to make it tasty and more exciting! Like a pizza.

This same principle can be done with your children’ fave foods. For example, if your daughter loves to eat pancake, make it healthier by adding cereal, berries, or small vegetable bits.

  1. Take advantage of your child’s appetite.

Children can be voracious eaters. Put something on their plate (especially when it’s their favorite), look away for a second, next thing you know, they’re asking for seconds.

And also, it’s scientifically proven that food becomes tastier when you’re hungry. That’s just a fact of life.

  1. Visually appeasing = more appetizing

In a research supported by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, researchers found out that food appeal could make individuals desire to eat; which only means one thing: “when food looks good, we think it tastes good too.”

Be creative. Children will at least be more interested in trying foods served and prepared in interesting ways.

  1. Turn meals into games.

One more thing: you can also be inventive in naming less than appealing foods like vegetables. For example, turn carrots in to x-ray vision orange munchies. Tell them that carrots can help them improve their eye sight, sort of like a power-up in games.

  1. Involve the children.

When it comes to preparing and making a meal, give your children a chance to lend a helping hand. They’ll come to understand the effort and the labor of love that comes with every meal that you make. This will probably make them more appreciative and hungry from all the grocery shopping, chopping, and slicin’-&-dicin’ that they did earlier!

  1. Be the role model of health.

Your children can only follow through example, your example. If you want your children to eat healthy foods and have a balanced diet, you have to eat healthy foods and have a balanced diet.

  1. Make meals an experience.

When you’re having a family meal, you must minimize the distractions. Turn the television off and put away the gadgets. Also, advertisement in the TV might encourage your children to eat sweet and unhealthy foods.

  1. Introduce DIY healthy and yummy treats

Instead of going through your usual bag of tricks (and treats), why not try and make these on your own? Frozen fruits in popsicles are winners in our home. It’s so easy to make, even your kids can make ‘em! This is also a great way for you and your kids to bond.

  1. Serve a course you want to make for a meal, plus an alternative

Sometimes, when we cave in to our children’s desires just to make them happy or to stop them from acting up, we might fall short of giving them what’s best.  So cook up what you want to make, and offer one choice you know your children like. Then they’ll be more likely try different foods.


About Joanna:

Joanna is an entrepreneur mum blessed with 3 lovely children. She lives in Dubai with her family, and loves to travel and cook healthy meals for her children. Joanna regularly shares her parenting tips and experiences with Afterschool.ae, an online platform listing all UAE child’s activities accessible by parents thru web and mobile.