Many parents can attest to the challenges in encouraging children to eat healthily, including incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables into their daily diets.
Children tend to become picky eaters for a number of reasons, according to the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. Some children are just naturally more sensitive to taste, texture and smell of some foods.
Others may learn their picky eating from parents who pick and choose among their meals. Still other children learn to be selective through bribes and punishments around mealtime.
However, there needn't been fussing and feuding over food choices -- particularly produce -- when parents employ a few creative ideas to entice children to dig into healthy foods.
1. Ask for your child's help: Have your child ride along to the grocery store and take an active role into picking out healthy foods that he or she may be willing to try. Most nutrition experts find that if children take in interest in what they will be eating, and are instrumental in making some choices, they will have a higher rate of eating those meals and foods.
2. Understand your child's eating habits: Some children will eat the crown of broccoli but leave aside the stems. There are kids that will eat anything as long as it's dunked in ketchup. They maye enjoy pears as long as they are cut up into pieces with the skin removed. Pay attention to how your child likes to eat the food and present it that way. It could mean fewer arguments at the dinner table.
3. Explore new flavor combinations: Oftentimes mixing certain flavor combinations can entice children to eat foods they may have never considered trying. Just think about the popularity of fruit juices mixed with vegetable purees. Some children have an inclination toward favorite flavors or just can benefit from a little variety, which can sometimes prove challenging when produce is out of season. Try Grapple(R) brand apples, which combine the fresh, familiar flavor of Washington apples with the aroma and taste of concord grapes. Through a patented process, premium Washington State apples are infused with grape flavor to create a product that "Crunches like an Apple, Tastes like a Grape(TM)." The health benefits of Grapples are just the same as other variety of apples, and there are no artificial ingredients added or genetic altering. The process of making them does not add any extra sugar, calories, carbohydrates or anything else; in fact the apple maintains its natural supply of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber. Parents can rest assured that all ingredients have been approved by the USDA and the FDA.
5. Try creative presentations: Simply presenting the foods in a unique way can make them fun to eat. Try making fruit creations, such as "snowmen" out of stacked grapes, or orange and peach skewers. Children may be more inclined to drinking fruit smoothies mixed with yogurt, or giving foods fun names, such as banana bombs, which are just chunks of banana rolled in honey and granola. All it may take is creating a fruit face on a plate with different fruits resembling features. Try kiwi eyes, Grapple slices for a mouth, a blueberry nose, or whatever you come up with.
6. Be patient with new foods: It can take a few attempts and repeated exposure to get children to try new foods, says the Mayo Clinic. Serve new foods along with children's favorite foods, like Grapple slices added to a peanut butter sandwiches.