Question from Joy:
Answer from: Malia Cable, RD our contributing Nutritionist.
It is definitely a difficult task to 1) get kids to sit still during the dinner table and 2) try new foods when they’re so picky about the things they like! How often do you engage your daughter during meal times? Does she sit at the table and wait for you to bring her the food, is she sitting at the couch in the living room, or is she allowed to get whatever she feels like? These are important things to take note of.
Children love to be engaged and be able to make decisions about the foods they choose. Perhaps during dinner – if you are the person that usually dishes up the meal, invite your daughter into the kitchen to build her own plate. You could ask her to build what she thinks is a healthy plate, and when she’s done educate her on important food groups that may be missing or foods she took too much of. When explaining the importance of missing food, try and relate the benefits to things that kids care about. These things include: improved appearance (ex. keratin from carrots will make your finger nails longer and stronger), more energy (they always want more of it), stronger muscles (to help them play harder and run faster). If you can educate kids on the benefits of different foods in relation to these benefits – she may be willing to try them! And if she isn’t, put a small serving of the food on the plate in case she changes her mind. If you continually introduce new foods to the child without “their permission” they might eventually give in and give it a try!
However, there’s sometimes too much engagement that they cannot focus. Does your daughter watch t.v. when the family sits down for a meal? Watching t.v. during meals is usually never a good idea. It can lead to either over or under consumption of foods – rarely do we ever stop when we’re appropriately full. Try sitting at the table with your daughter with zero distraction. Perhaps asking her about her day would put her in a good mindset and you can distract her from the fact she’s eating eggs. And who knows, she may enjoy them!
But if you feel, that you’d like her to gain a little weight as a buffer – try giving her a smoothie in the morning with various fruits, vegetables, protein and fats. Peanut butter can mask the flavor of about anything! Below is a fun smoothie recipe that if given a couple times a week, could result in slight weight gain. Once you feel she is at an appropriate weight, you can continue the smoothies but remove the fat and half of the protein. A children’s multivitamin may also be a good idea if you believe she’s not getting all the necessary nutrients – a Flintstones multivitamin (no gummies) will do just fine.
Strawberry Peanut Butter Smoothie:
Start by placing 1/2-cup of 100 percent strawberry or strawberry-blend juice in your blender. Add 2 Tbsp. of peanut butter and frozen strawberries. Blend until smooth. To increase your protein intake, stir in a few tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt. Serve as is, or over ice.”
Malia Cable, RD
Clinical Registered Dietitian at Essential Nutrition 2935 Baseline Rd Ste 302 Boulder, CO 80303
School Nutrition Dietitian at Weld County School District 6 Nutrition Services 2805 4th Ave Greeley, CO 80631