Educating toddlers about nutrition takes imagination. Just rattling off nutritional data will probably go over their head. Thankfully, a fascinating natural phenomenon that has always fascinated children everywhere is available as a teaching tool.
Knowing the Benefits Colors Carry
A rainbow is an all-time favorite idea for getting kids to learn about colors. Since color is an effective indicator of a nutrient-packed plate, associating the rainbow with healthy eating works exceptionally well in influencing young children toward consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables.
What do the colors of fruits and vegetable signify for your health?
- Red helps strengthen the heart.
- Orange helps sharpen vision.
- Yellow helps boost the immune system.
- Green helps strengthen bones and teeth.
- Blue and purple help sharpen memory.
Guiding Children Towards Wholesome, Colorful Consumption
“Eat a rainbow” has become a common dietary advice these days. Unfortunately, it’s not always the easiest thing to convince little ones to eat healthy food, especially vegetables. Considering this, what can you do to get your children to eat a rainbow?
1. Keep your ingredients simple.
You don’t need to overthink toddler food. Just get them started on simple foods and follow their cues from there. If you let them lead, they’ll reveal ways for you to feed them nutritious food.
There’s no need to buy them fancy superfoods either. You can probably cover all the colors with locally sourced produce. They may even be so inexpensive as to come from your own backyard!
2. Substitute judiciously.
You can switch things up, either for the sake of variety or for better nutrition. For instance, if your child likes sweet potato gnocchi, try replacing the sweet potato with pumpkin or potato from time to time.
For healthier snacking, you can spread peanut butter on apple slices or celery sticks instead of packaged crackers. Try making your own healthier version of commercial snacks, like chickpeas roasted with natural spices and Himalayan salt instead of corn nuts, or kale chips baked with olive oil and seasoning salt instead of store-bought chips.
3. Make food more interesting.
There are many ways to make food more fun. Focusing on colors and variety, you’re already halfway there. Cookie cutters and bread stamps are also very useful tools in this respect. This is definitely a chance for you to get creative.
Presentation can also be key. You can serve your fruits and vegetables in blunt-tipped skewers, offer a variety of tasty dips, etc.
Have an adventure with food. Play food games. You can take turns closing your eyes and guessing which food or color you’re being fed. You can also stick a color chart on your fridge and your kids can put a sticker on the colors they ate for the day.
4. Involve them in food preparation.
When kids feel a part of something, they get a sense of ownership. Food that they helped prepare is bound to be more appealing to them.
Brave the potential mess; it’ll be worth it. Besides the feeling of investment, preparing food together is a great bonding experience for you and your children.
Some easier tasks suitable for toddlers are peeling fruit, tearing leaves, stirring, dumping into a bowl, and blending healthy smoothies.
You can also do DIY meals that require them to choose and put together various ingredients, such as with a pasta salad, tacos, and pita pockets.
5. Let them experience harvest.
For this, you can take them to U-pick farms where they can experience the wonder of plucking fruits from branches or pulling up root crops. It all adds to the fascination. Food seen in their natural states and sources is more endearing somehow.
Better yet, start your own garden so you and your kids can enjoy the magic of plants and natural food production. If they feel a sense of ownership from preparing meals, even more so with actually growing their food.
6. Give your child a sense of control.
Get into your child’s head. Empathy goes a long way. For instance, adults have their own eating preferences, so it would only be natural for children to have the same.
If they refuse to eat something on certain days, or at all, don’t force it on them. Putting pressure on children is a good way to develop lifelong aversions. Respect their refusal and take the power struggle out of it, but continue to serve the food, trying different ways to make it more visually appealing.
7. Don’t give up.
Be patient. Children typically prefer to make their own discoveries and when they do, don’t make a big deal out of it. Just always serve a selection of healthy food items and your kids will eventually try them.
According to research, it takes about 15 exposures to a new food before a child will accept it, so don’t strike something permanently off the menu just because your toddler has thus far repeatedly rejected it.
Choosing Natural Colors
Keeping your children’s diet healthy can be hard, surrounded as they are with candy and other junk food. Although these are also colorful, the artificial dyes used on them are detrimental to the health.
Because of this, you need to be vigilant about the kinds of food to which you expose your kids. The wholesome, natural rainbow is the way to go.