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Getting children to eat new or healthy foods isn’t always easy, Junk food companies market processed foods to children on a regular basis, and it can be hard for parents to have time to prepare fresh meals every day.

But one Instagram account is trying to help parents navigate this common issue. Jennifer Anderson, Master of Science in Public Health, is using her skills to help parents present food to kids in new ways.

Here are a few strategies she shared!

10. Carry Healthy Snacks

Many of these are pretty healthy!

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🔥 hangry… especially this time of year, the kids are melting DOWN! Little m's preschool teacher said, "The kids are…..agitated" this time of year. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Out of routines. Hurried around. Maybe not as much outside time if it's cold. Strange (to them) holiday food.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ What can we do to help? Give snacks with fat, protein, and fiber. For our own sake, now is not the time to give into toddler requests for more cheesy crackers. Why? They need the protein, fat, and fiber to keep their blood sugar stable, so that they can keep going and not get super hangry 5 minutes after their goldfish snack.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ So serve crackers with nut or seed butter⁠⠀ Serve meat with a side of fruit or veggie⁠⠀ Serve whole yogurt with a side of fruit⁠⠀ Serve avocado (which is actually decent alone)⁠⠀ Serve a cheese stick with a little fruit or veggie⁠⠀ Serve nuts – but ground up for ages 4 and under for safety⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ And remember, it's okay if they lose their avocados some days. It's just part of the kid thing. 🥑🥑🥑🥑⁠⠀ #kidseatincolor⁠⠀

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9. Make It Cute

Presentation is key!

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Those eyes are a food pick, the ears are pretzels, the nose is a raspberry. And of course you can use candy eyes, raisin eyes, or anything else for eyes instead, but I was out. 🤣 To make this even better, you make the first one, and have your kid make the rest – they get good food exposures and you get to watch them have so much fun. You can tag me if you make them, I would love to see!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #kidseatincolor⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠

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8. Keto Isn’t For Everyone

Talk to your doctor, of course. But otherwise, this general advice can help.

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Is the keto diet a good diet for kids? Should babies be weaned to a keto diet? Questions I was hoping to never have to answer again…⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ But, I've been getting the questions again, so I just want to remind everyone that the keto diet is not a safe diet for children or babies⁠.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ The keto diet is a therapeutic diet used for children who have uncontrolled epilepsy that is unresponsive to medication. And the diet has long-term unwanted health effects. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Do kids need to eat carbohydrates to fuel their bodies and their growth? Absolutely! Where can kids get carbohydrates in their diet? ⁠⠀ – fruit⁠⠀ – veggies⁠⠀ – starchy veggies⁠⠀ – beans and lentils⁠⠀ – grains⁠⠀ – milk⁠⠀ – nuts⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ⁠It's great if we can help our kids learn to eat lots of less processed carbohydrates like whole grains and the other foods on the list. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 🍎 If you need help getting your child to eat less processed foods, I have a free guide in my bio @kids.eat.in.color to help you help your child try a new food. 🍏 ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Let's also remember that talking about weight loss and diets around kids isn't helpful. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends never mentioning diet or weight around children, as it can predispose them to eating disorders.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ We don't want 4-year-olds "watching their carbs" or saying things like "candy will make me fat." The more we can model eating a balanced diet without saying any foods are "bad," the better for them and us!⁠⠀ #kidseatincolor⁠⠀ ⁠⠀

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7. Introduce Dips and Cheeses

They’re okay in moderation—and with veggies!

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Got a picky toddler? They are going to need to see something like 5, 10, 50, 200 times before they decide something is okay to eat. Don't be afraid to try new ways, add something to make it tasty, put a fun dip on the side, or give them the whole head. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 🥦 Need tips for getting your child to try a new food? Free guide up in my bio @kids.eat.in.color!🥦 ⁠⠀ #kidseatincolor⁠⠀

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6. How to Discuss Weight

Children are quite sensitive to the topic.

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💚Stories… society tells us that judging people's bodies, makes them "healthier". So it's "okay" to judge someone's body because it's helping them be "healthier". Funny story, research disagrees big time – judgement, guilt, and shame don't lead to health. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ You know what leads to health? Love and connection. So I want to tell my kids a different story, that loving people makes them healthier. We don't have to judge other people's bodies (or anything else) to "help" them. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Which is all nice and good, until someone comes up at the holiday party in front of my kid, and makes some comment about their appearance or their body. ⁠ 😝⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Now I have to actually say something. I get sweaty and nauseous. Sheesh, my 36-hour labor was easier than parenting stuff like this.⁠ 🤪⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Here's the thing, if I want my kids to learn something different, I have to model it. They see me telling a different story. That who they are is more important than what they look like. That it's not okay to discuss and judge someone else's appearance.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Speaking out also helps keep them healthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that weight not be discussed with children to help prevent eating disorders.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Even if my child has health problems (which may or may not be related to weight), it's no one else's business, truly…it's okay to say whatever I need to say (or abruptly go to the bathroom) to end the conversation.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ I was inspired to write this post by @Jennifer_rollin who wrote one for when someone comments on YOUR weight. Also inspired by @danasuchow, who is a great resource for learning about how to talk to kids.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ This isn't perfect. Finding the right words to say is sometimes impossible…but the words don't have to be perfect to be a step in the right direction. ☺️⁠⠀ #kidseatincolor⁠⠀ ⁠⠀

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5. Find Age-Appropriate Portions

Children and adults have different needs!

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Do you worry about your child not eating enough? It's easy to think that we know how much food our kids need. But actually, we know WHAT food they need, not how much they need. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ That's why I recommend serving small portions to start and letting them decide how much to eat…meaning, give them as many refills as they want, but don't force them to finish. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ This is a best practice for teaching kids to eat the right amount for their body long term!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you'd like to learn a few more best practices, I'm holding a video call on Friday at 8:30 pm EST 3 Common Picky Eater Mistakes and How to Overcome Them Using BetterBites Methods – link in bio or here 👇⁠⠀ https://events.genndi.com/register/818720503324741880/9c0073f7a7⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ We'll talk about 3 things you can start doing now. I'll also be opening the January session of BetterBites on the call. BetterBites is a program for parents who want to teach their child to eat new foods at their own pace and reduce mealtime stress in the process. And with it being Black Friday and all, I'm going to be offering a one-time-ever (never going to do it again ever) offer for the program. It's big and you'll need to register for the video call in order to get the code.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ And yes, there will be a replay. I do encourage you to attend live if you want a chance to ask questions and if you want the first shot at getting one of the January BetterBites program slots with the offer code. ⁠⠀ #kidseatincolor⁠⠀ ⁠⠀

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4. How to Motivate Yourself

Don’t dwell on past failures!

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"My husband said I can't even feed my own child." ⁠⠀ "My mother-in-law said I've ruined our daughter."⁠⠀ "I feel like I've failed my child."⁠⠀ "Everyone else learns so much from you. I'm going to have to unfollow because I've tried everything and nothing works for my child. I just want to say goodbye before I leave."⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ These are 4 real DMs out of hundreds like it that I get every month. Are you in a similar boat? Do you feel like a failure because nothing seems to be working? All your friend's kids seem to be improving and trying things, and your kid is eating LESS?⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ There are a lot of reasons that your child might be picky that are not your fault. Genetics. Sensory processing disorders. Autism. Developmental struggles. So many things that may be out of your control. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ While it's easy to just say "I did it wrong. I failed," there's another way to look at it as well.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Maybe the better answer is that your child needs additional help with this. Maybe you need more tools in your toolbox. There's no shame or failure in realizing you need new tools for your tricky situation.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Kids who are picky or have feeding difficulties CAN learn to eat better. You also can learn tools to decrease your stress levels and help your child learn to eat at their own pace. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Often people work one-on-one with a dietitian, occupational therapist, or speech language pathologist (or a team!) to help kids. A lot of families ask me to be that person for them, but there's too many requests for me to do them all (plus, it's REALLY expensive to work with a dietitian, like me, one-on-one out of pocket). So to be able to help as many people as possible, I created BetterBites, a group program for families of picky eaters. It gives you, the parent, the tools you need to teach your little one to try new foods at their own pace, and reduce mealtime stress. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ If you want to learn more about BetterBites and also get a few more tools for your tool box, I'm offering a FREE mini picky eater email series. You can get it via the link in my bio @kids.eat.in.color or via this link here:⁠⠀ https://jenniferanderson.kartra.com/page/lkS13⁠⠀ #kidseatincolor⁠⠀ ⁠#pickyeater #pickyeaters⁠⠀

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3. Make Compromises

Don’t include large candy bars. A tiny bite is enough.

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"My toddler is OBSESSED with candy and throwing so many tantrums!" This is normal. Have you tried the 3 chocolate chip trick? (also works with other small treats 😉)⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Serve 3 chocolate chips in their lunch every day for 3-4 days. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ They may tantrum when they can't have more. But didn't you just tell me they were tantruming anyway? So, nothing new there. 🤣 "All gone for today. More tomorrow."⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Repeat x 3.⁠ ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Tag me in your stories and let me know how it's going on days 3 and 4!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Also, did you know I have a FREE veggie exposure shopping list in my bio? It's what I use every week and it's awesome, if I don't say so myself. – link in bio @kids.eat.in.color – bitly.com/VeggieList 🤣⁠ If you get it today, you'll be one of the first to learn when my meal system Kids Eat in Color Real Easy Weekdays launches next Tuesday!⁠⠀ #kidseatincolor⁠⠀ ⁠⠀

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2. Discuss Halloween Treats

And find a rationing system that works for both of you.

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Let’s focus on FUN, not candy. Here's the run-down of how we'll be doing Halloween:!⠀ ⁠⠀ 🍭 we'll make a big deal of having fun doing costumes – mommy will end work early and get out the tape, tin foil, and markers⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 🍭 we'll spend the evening together after a dinner of normal food that my kids won't eat due to excitement (real life)⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 🍭 we'll try to not eat candy while out and about – it may or may not work⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 🍭 my kids will eat candy until they are done eating candy⁠. We won't say anything.⁠ They may eat a lot.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 🍭 they will have the option of the magic halloween box as always. In previous years, M has loved the mystery of the magic halloween box and it's always had tape and art supplies in it. Today I reminded M he didn't have to put any candy in the magic halloween box and he said, "Well, we're low on tape right now…" ⁠🤔⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Some people do dentist candy buy-back, donating it places, saving for Christmas gingerbread houses, switch witch, etc. Whatever it is, I keep this optional for the kids as forcing them to give it up can make them want candy even more.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 🍭 I serve candy every day with a meal/snack for about a week or until they begin to lose a little interest, then I'll serve it occasionally after that.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Above all, focus on your kid, on the fun – they will pick up on that!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 🍫When you were a kid were you forced to give up any of your Halloween candy?⁠⠀ #kidseatincolor⁠⠀

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1. Teach Awareness

This helps your child pay attention to their own needs.

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Here's an easy language swap: Instead of telling kids "finish your dinner" (which, of course, I have also said), you can try, ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ "Is your tummy full?"⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ That's it. Teach those littles to tune in and see if their tummy is full. This is maybe the MOST important eating skill you can help your kids learn.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Wait is that CANDY on that plate? You betcha. That's where I'll be serving it for 2-3 days after Halloween. 👍 And if they only eat the candy? Okay. But, we've been doing this long enough that there is a 99.9999999% chance they will eat something else from their plates.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Have you tried dessert WITH dinner?⁠⠀ #kidseatincolor ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀

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These tricks won’t solve every issue, and they don’t substitute medical or professional advice. Finding new ways to talk to children about food is still a great idea though.

Do you find any of these helpful? If so, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!