Why does broccoli lose to nuggets, what prevents us from building a healthy relationship with sweets and how to make friends with vegetables?
Why do children prefer sweets to everything else?
If a child has a healthy relationship with sweets and food in general, then he will understand the difference between when he is really hungry and when he just wants sweets. However, if the child is accustomed to eating sweets, he will start to overeat. For example, instead of bread with cottage cheese, the child wants cookies spread with Nutella.
The same situation can occur if the child rarely eats sweets and loves them very much. In such a situation, he, too, is likely to want sweets all the time. If something similar appears at home, the child will first of all grab it and eat it. He will prefer sweets to any other food and will try to eat for future use. This behavior can also be observed during the holidays when sweets are available.
How to avoid such behavior? Build a healthy relationship with sweets. One way is to cook them at home.
When there are a lot of sweets at home, our choice is predetermined by what is available. The desire to eat something from these stocks is difficult to fight even for adults. If we constantly keep a cut roll or cookies in vases on the table, then, of course, problems will begin. You love it, it lies at hand – why not eat it? For children, this is all the more difficult, and they will constantly reach out for this.
Therefore, while in the store, try to transfer the child’s attention from cookies to the ingredients that are needed to make them. Offer not to buy sweets, but to cook them at home yourself. Find an appetizing photo of cookies on the Internet and share an idea to cook them together.
Thus, instead of stocking up on bags of cookies and sweets in advance and then constantly eating them up, we make a choice in favor of what we really want here and now. In addition, this way we can control the quality of ingredients, serving sizes, the amount of added sugars, and fiber.
Try baking cookies according to the usual family recipe, reducing the amount of sugar by at least a third, and replacing the usual white flour with whole grains.
What to do if the child is already accustomed to a lot of sweets and requires them all the time?
Start the weaning process. The difference in behavior and the absence of obsessive thoughts about sweets can be noticed after one to two weeks. The main thing is to reduce sugar intake gradually and not to forget about a complete diet.
What you need to pay attention to:
- remove all drinks containing added sugar from the menu;
- re-read labels and find sugar-free alternatives to common foods like sugar-filled bread;
- remove sweet snacks and replace them with substantial ones;
- remove desserts after meals;
- make sure the child eats normal food.
There’s an interesting opinion about sweets in Sweden
Each child has a certain number of coins, and they can buy by weight those sweets that they want. This is called “Sabbath sweetness” (Lördagsgoddies). So the Swedes bring up a trusting attitude towards the child.
Traditionally, in Sweden they eat sweets only on Saturday, on other days, they don’t even remember about them. A very healthy tradition!
Many children do not eat vegetables. How to change this?
If a child does not want to eat any particular vegetable or fruit, this is not a big problem. It is worse, if they refuse all vegetables and fruits. Then it is important to give the child an opportunity to try – to offer vegetables as often as possible. Also, do not be afraid of fruits and vegetables at the stage of introducing complementary foods. The supply of vegetables is also important.
Offer a vegetable plate with a different composition each day. Thanks to this method, you can interest the child not only in those vegetables and fruits that he already eats, but also expand the diet and help him try new things.
The method of preparation is also important: for example, most children will prefer slightly steamed small crunchy broccoli to softened, shapeless and large broccoli. Find the “format” that your child will like.
Researchers at the University of Texas came up with an interesting trick. Researchers analyzed school food waste through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and found that broccoli was more likely to be thrown away when served with hamburgers or nuggets than when served with baked potatoes, a less-loved meal for kids.
The researchers came to a simple conclusion: it is difficult for vegetables to compete with other products. Most of the time they will lose. Therefore, it is better to let the vegetables compete with themselves. Indeed, this hypothesis was tested in school cafeterias and led to a fourfold increase in the number of vegetables eaten.
Serve vegetables in the company of other vegetables and offer all this, for example, 10-15 minutes before the main meal. I’m sure this technique will work in any family.
Now, when dinner is being prepared and it’s time to set the table (the whole family is already eagerly gathering in the kitchen), put a plate of chopped vegetables on the table. Do not prevent the family members from pulling a crispy pepper or cucumber off the plate.
Still, it is better to ask the kids to cut these vegetables themselves. It’s a great time together and a reason to chat about the day.
Look at food in terms of textures and colors
Children learn about food differently than adults do. Adults often rely on someone else’s recommendations, someone’s advice is enough for them to try new things. Children, on the other hand, look at their parents to see if they themselves eat such food. Besides, children first interact with food: they touch, knead, play with it – and only then they put it in their mouths.
If the first impression is not very good, this does not mean that you need to stop offering this product. You can offer it again and again – gradually the kid will get used to it.
Someone likes crispy foods, and someone, on the contrary, like soft ones. In general, it is important to introduce children to a variety of textures. As with the variety of colors: they determine the saturation of products with different phytonutrients, which are also responsible for the usefulness of the product.
If we eat foods of different colors, this is a kind of guarantee that our diet is varied and we get a wide range of elements.
If we talk about color, it is more pleasant for the eye to look at multi-colored drawings. Therefore, they try to make the packaging of children’s products colorful. How can we compete with this entire mass market? Become a vegetable marketer!
Give children vegetables of different colors, cook “colorful” soups, and make colorful smoothies. It is ideal to have six varieties of vegetables in the refrigerator at all times. However, this is not the limit. Consider the season, and let the child choose vegetables in the store.
Offer your children (and don’t forget about yourself) a multi-colored vegetable plate or salad each day, assembled according to the principle of a truncated rainbow – from products of at least five different colors.
If a child fails to walk past the shelves with colorful packages of sweets, he/she will not disregard such a variety of bright vegetables and fruits.
We are used to dividing food into healthy and unhealthy food. Is it correct?
Dividing food into healthy and unhealthy is not worth it, especially calling it with just such words. It is better to use the phrases “substantial diet”, “let’s try to put different foods”, and focus on vegetables – that is, what should be the basis of the diet. Everything else – rustling packages, small sweets, buns – is more for entertainment, it is not the main meal.
Tell them and show them how to grow greens and vegetables, start mini-beds on the windowsill, and buy a beautiful anatomy book for children. Tell them about the process of assimilation of food rich in various macro- and microelements, about the difference between unprocessed foods and ready-made products of deep processing and about the benefits that we get from them.
What if there are a lot of children in the house and everyone eats different things?
A lot can be done with servings. It is not necessary to mix all the products in one dish. You can arrange them by ingredients. For example, a vegetable plate plus different sauces where you can dip vegetables. It can be sour cream, hummus, thick tomato paste with basil, and garlic.
Prepare different toppings (vegetables, vegetable sticks, herbs, beans) and lay them all out separately. Everyone comes to the table and wraps the ingredients that he personally likes in some kind of grain pita bread.
The “constructor principle” can be applied to different dishes. For example, someone likes soup with meat and someone – without. This means that meat can be boiled, cut into cubes, and put in a separate container. When everyone has eaten the soup, whoever wants meat will add it to their plate. Such compromises can be made if the family is large and everyone has different taste preferences.