Teach Children How To Cook

Personal sharings of Chef Peter Pang on How To Lead Your Child To Healthy Eating

How To Get My Kids To Eat Vegetables and Fruits

Posted by Peter Pang on August 15, 2008

My Kids hate vegetables and fruits.

How do I get them to eat vegetables and fruits?

Here are ways to get to know your child by age and some tips on how to incorporate vegetables and fruits into your kid’s daily diet.

It’s true. You are what you eat. So is your child. Food is definitely one of life’s great pleasures, but when it comes to feeding children, it can also become a huge challenge. Parents have the power to pass on healthy eating habits just by making good choices for their children when they are young.

“In automobile terms, the child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.”

Your child needs your guidance, love and encouragement especially when it comes to food choices. I know it’s easier to let them have what they want but later in life, your child will find it hard to resist what is bad for them.

If children are taught early on to make good choices when it comes to food, many adult health problems can be avoided as proven by research.

Do you realize that a three-year-old child gets almost as much fun out of a $500 set of swings as she does finding a small green worm? The key is to show them what can be good fun.

Give your child the childhood they rightfully deserve. Remember, the best present you can ever give to your child is to teach them how to eat right, and to me, that is by teaching them how to cook. But before that, GET TO KNOW YOUR CHILD !

Toddlers: Between 12 and 24 months old, toddlers enjoy new foods. They will eat just about anything that you feed them. I remember the time when my daughter Joice was 18 months old, she would just sit on the high chair and savour whatever food that was put on her plate. She would calmly and quietly use her spoon to scoop up food and put it into her mouth, enjoy it and later pick up her plate to ask for more.

If you have a toddler, this is a great window of opportunity to introduce different types of fruits and vegetables into her diet. At this age, your child has a relatively small stomach, so there is little room to fill up on empty calories.

(Empty calories, in dietary terminology, are calories present in high-energy foods with poor nutritional profile. Foods often considered to contain empty calories are sweets, soft drinks, margarine or shortening, butter or lard and other highly-saturated fat. The substitutes for empty calories are fruits, vegetables, wholegrain bread and 100 percent fruit juice and vegetable juice.)

However, your child is just beginning to establish her independence and making her own food choices. As long as you put nutritious food on his or her plate, you can encourage your child to choose what to eat and how much. For toddlers, it is a good practice to cut food into smaller pieces to eliminate choking hazard. Try cutting bread into smaller squares, and slicing cooked carrot into “coin” shapes and cheese into triangles. Serve your children whole milk up until they are two years of age – they need the extra fat for proper brain development. After that, you can switch to low-fat or fat-free milk.

The trouble with children is that they are non-returnable, so you have to make the best out of what you get!

Preschoolers: Preschoolers should continue to build on the healthy habits that began earlier in life. Food rich in calcium and protein are important and should be included in their diet as it fuels rapid physical growth. Take advantage of preschoolers’ natural curiosity to prepare simple and healthy food for them. Continue to present new food to them. Limit the amount of sweets because sugar adds lots of calories without beneficial nutrients and contributes to tooth decay and obesity.

Elementary Schoolers: School-going children spend many hours away from home. Their eating habits are very easily influenced by friends and television advertising. Parents who have elementary schoolers should set a good example of healthy eating and serve nutritious food at home. You can be a bit more relaxed about food choices away from home. However, having said that, do try to order healthier dishes which contains a lot of grains and vegetables, and less of dishes containing high fat, high cholesterol ingredients. Order fruit juices instead of soft drinks or coloured and flavoured drinks. Younger school-going children do not need adult-size servings of food, but as the years progress their food intake will rise as puberty approaches. If your child is active in sports activities, they will have bigger appetites. As they learn about the human body and how food is used in their body, let them get involved in menu planning and grocery shopping.

“My wife and I are either going to buy a cat or have a child. We can’t decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives.”

Preteens: Preteen girls may be concerned about dieting and body image at this time. Preteen boys can eat an enormous amount of food, much of which comprises junk food and empty calories. They are exposed to trendy coffee and tea beverages which contain caffeine. Too much caffeine can cause jitteriness as well as insomnia if consumed too late in the day. Bear in mind, your preteen child still needs to fulfill basic nutritional needs. They also need the tradition and ritual involved in family meal times. Use this time to reconnect but never handle school or family issues, especially those that might lead to conflict. Handle such issues after the meal is over, so as not to spoil the mood of dining together.

“To me, there’s no such thing as a tough child – if you marinate them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.”

I hope that you have enjoyed this article , my next post will be ” How to turn junk food kids to healthy eating kids “


Chef Peter Pang


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