I won’t lie, I thought we’d made it scott-free. Two and a half years ago, when I’d chop up and blend all of those fruits and vegetables to make Kai’s baby purées, I shook my head at the thought of him growing up and refusing to eat vegetables. He loved them, all of them – carrot and butternut, sweet potato with cinnamon, peas with coconut oil. We’re not health freaks in our house, but we wanted to be mindful of what we fed him.
Then school hit. At first, it wasn’t too bad and he still ate quite well. But then this year, he switched it on us. All of a sudden, the declaration “I don’t like veggies!” became a regular occurrence at dinner time. When Kai was still a baby, he didn’t even know what veggies were – he just ate what we gave him. As long as it was in purée form, he gobbled it up. Because he can now tell the difference between textures, sizes and colours of things, he’s somehow magically managed to figure out which items on his plate are classified as vegetables and what isn’t. This threw us quite a bit because our diet is low GI and we eat a lot of veggies. What to do? We tried bribing him with whatever toy was hot stuff then, but that didn’t last. Neither did dangling a visit to Granny and Grandpa – a bit of a contradictory move on our part because they always spoil him rotten with sweets. Thankfully, we’ve figured out a few ways to make sure he gets the necessary nutrition in him. Here are three ways we feed our picky eater:
1. Hide the food
I have no idea why it took me and Kev so long to figure this one out. It almost happened accidentally, but now our default is we cook food that hides veggies. Pasta is great for this. We buy penne and use the tubes to stuff beans or peas in. This usually works until a bean decides to go rogue and fall out in front of him. At this point, I feign ignorance and act very surprised at how on Earth that bean snuck in there. Hopefully, by then, your kid has had enough spoonfuls. Soup is another great option, as well as grating veggies like carrots for stews. They blend beautifully and are hardly noticeable.
2. Give him something tasty
This is where it can get a bit tricky, because as soon as your kid gets their first taste of sugar, they’re pretty much hooked. I think many of us easily forget just how healthy yoghurt is. Kai loves the little tubs of Nutriday and I always refer to them as treats, so he enjoys them even more. They’re all fortified with Vitamins A, B, D, E and Zinc. All of which help him strengthen his sight, bone strength, muscle, heart and immunity. Of course, he doesn’t really care about this, he just loves the taste of it. It’s the easiest sell for breakfast, snack or even pudding. And it helps me know he’s getting a boost of much needed nutrition.
3. Make it fun
Sometimes making dinner a competition works wonders. If he’s not too tired and already in a playful mood, Kai can accept a challenge from his dad to see who will finish their dinner quickest. Of course, monitor how fast your child is gulping things down, and you’d need to go at their pace to keep the competition alive. Another way to make it fun is by the cliché “here comes an aeroplane” trick. I guess it’s cliché because it works.
When I look back on my former one-year-at-motherhood self, I shake my head. I had no idea how opinionated and determined this boy of mine would be. Of course, those are all great characteristics and things we celebrate in our house – just not at dinner time.
How do you make sure your little one is eating healthy? What’s your favourite healthy food you give to him/her?
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