What can you do when your kid refuses to eat the very foods he needs most? As a nutrition expert, I know that the correct
answer is to keep introducing them. As a mom, I know that technique alone doesn’t always work. Sometimes, when it
doesn’t, the “spoonful of sugar” method—pairing the rejected food with something the kid likes—does.
Last month, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee—a group of independent scientists that advises the government on what
America’s eating goals should be—identified that both children and adults need to be getting more calcium, vitamin D,
potassium and fiber. You get these nutrients in dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains—some of the very foods kids tend
Here are four guilt-free solutions to help your picky eaters get the food—and nutrients—they need.
The problem: Your kid doesn’t like fruit.
The solution: Mix it up into a “milkshake.”
Most fruits provide good amounts of potassium and vitamin C and a fruit-based smoothie is a great way to slip in a serving or
two. Plus, for many kids, sipping something with a straw is a big draw. Smoothies from a shop often are loaded with lots of
added sugars, so for the healthiest dose make your own at home. Try making homemade
smoothies, such as Citrus Berry Smoothie
, which has only ½ tablespoon of honey per cup. It also has low-fat
yogurt—another way to get in calcium if your child doesn’t like milk. (And, of course, chocolate can be an ally for parents
of fruit-haters, too: who can resist a strawberry, banana or other chocolate-dipped fruit, like in this super-simple Chocolate Fondue recipe
The problem: Your kid won’t eat beans.
The solution: Mash them up into a yummy dip and serve them with chips.
Beans are a great source of fiber, folate (a B vitamin that promotes the development of healthy new cells) and protein; plus
they’re cheap! Kids who are turned off by the mushy texture or earthy taste of beans may be more inclined to dig in when
they’re presented in smooth,
flavorful dips, like Zesty Bean Dip
. Pair them with corn tortilla chips and kids will think they’re getting to
have a special treat.
The problem: Your kid shuns broccoli (and other good-for-you veggies).
The solution: Drizzle on the cheese sauce.
Adding cheese atop vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or even Brussels sprouts helps tame the flavors that turn some kids
off. Yes, cheese generally does contain more calories and more saturated fat than low-fat dairy products—but it also provides
a little calcium too. The key is to add just enough cheese to make it taste yummy, not to smother the vegetables in calories
and fat, so it’s best to try this at home where you have control over it! Try No-Bake
Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and 20 more Healthy Cheesy Recipes
The problem: Your kid won’t drink milk.
The solution: Stir in some chocolate.
I wasn’t too surprised when I recently heard about the news that removing chocolate milk (and other flavored milks) from
school cafeterias resulted in kids drinking up to 50 percent less milk and, thus, missing out on the important nutrients it
provides. I was the kind of kid who would have hid my milk money from my mom if my only option was plain milk.
Flavored or not, milk provides calcium (1 cup provides a third of one's daily needs), vitamin D, riboflavin, niacin,
phosphorus and protein. Yes, chocolate milk has added sugars but it appears that flavored-milk drinks don’t actually end up
adding excessive sugars to kids' diets, as chocolate-milk banners would suggest. According to research, published in the
Journal of the American Dietetic Association—by EatingWell nutrition advisor and University of Vermont nutrition
professor, Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D—kids who drank flavored milk had higher calcium intakes than kids who didn't drink
flavored milks, but their overall intakes of added sugars were similar. (It's worth noting that Dr. Johnson was the lead
author on the recent paper released by the American Heart Association urging Americans to cut back on added sugars.)