|Posted on October 16, 2016 at 9:00 PM|
Toddlers…they are picky little things! When I became a mother I honestly didn’t plan or think ahead on this 2 year old “I’ll eat this not that” stage. We as mothers work SO hard to prepare healthy, balanced meals for our children and then (if your child is anything like my daughter) they end up eating the carbs and/or fruit and leave the protein and the greens behind! It can be hard to not become frustrated and concerned when we don’t feel that our little ones are eating a balanced diet. Well, I am writing this blog to encourage you that there IS hope and there ARE many ways to get even the pickiest of eaters to eat well!
It all comes down to learning to disguise foods with another of a stronger taste, smell and more vibrant color until you gradually add less and less of what I call the “camouflage” foods over time and eventually get them to eat the ACTUAL food. I promise you within a few weeks this tactic does work! My daughter for instance, used to absolute abhor spinach or green veggies of almost any sort but now she is requesting bites of my omelet (loaded with spinach) AFTER she has finished hers! She also used to never touch meat (especially beef) and now she will (the majority of the time).
So, I won’t hesitate any further! Let me introduce you to what I call the sneaky “5 Camouflage Foods” that have helped me help my daughter eat what she needs on a daily basis:
• Bananas (to mask the taste of greens, the tang of Greek yogurt and the texture of seeds and grains especially in smoothies)
• Cheddar Cheese (to mask the taste of greens, meat and the texture of whole grains)
• Gluten Free, Seasoned Bread Crumbs (to help mask the texture and taste of meat)
• Natural Ranch Dressing (to mask the taste of raw veggies)
• Natural, HFCS free Ketchup (to mask the taste and texture of meat)
If your child is resisting greens, I suggest you make my toddler omelet recipe (posted on my website)! I add loads of spinach to this recipe and my daughter still gobbles it up all thanks to cheese! Always be looking for ways to sneak those greens into casseroles, smoothies, eggs, muffins etc. They will never know!
As I said, protein has been one of my biggest challenges with my little one. As you know, Greek yogurt is packed full of protein and calcium but my daughter hates the taste of it! So what do I do? I make her a smoothie and I sweeten it naturally with stevia, some pureed banana, avocado and chia seeds and she usually will slurp up whole thing! The taste of banana is over powering and totally takes the sour tang away!
Meat (also a great source of protein) was totally a no-no with my daughter for the longest time but what I have found is that it was all due to texture! That’s when I started coating the chicken, turkey and pork with whole grain, GF bread crumbs and then letting her dip it in ketchup. And to my surprise, she ate it!! With beef of any sort, it has a layer of cheese she will generally eat it too (especially when ketchup is offered alongside it). Once again, it was all about texture for her.
Raw carrots and broccoli? Ha! A few months ago I would have told you to forget even trying to put in front of my daughter. However now, I have found an amazing natural ranch dressing my Newman’s Own that she LOVES! I give her a little bowl of each the veggies and the dip and she now will sit and dip and munch for just about as long as I will let her!
Lastly, presentation of food with a toddler is HUGE! My daughter loves everything in colorful, individual little bowls with matching lids. This may sound silly but I promise you it works! Of course there are times we are in a rush and everything is served on the same plate, but as often as we can we serve her food in the most fun way possible. Pinterest is a great way to discover new, fun toddler meals for kids. “Ants on a Log” or celery topped with peanut butter and raisins is one of my favorite, fun toddler snacks!
Truly, feeding a toddler a healthy, balanced diet is all about experimenting, disguising, dressing up and compartmentalizing the foods in many different ways. The more you try these mechanisms the more you will discover what works for your child. I promise, it gets easier over time! Remember, toddlers typically aren’t going to eat three entire meals a day perfectly but just keep remembering to focus on quality of the food you are serving them and not the quantity. My little one has almost always been in the 10% on the growth chart (she was SO picky when it came to solids) but I am happy to say that now she has reached the 25% on the growth chart! The moral of the story is you are doing great mama! Keep trying, don’t let this stage get you down and remember it will get easier over time!