Tried and Trusted Tips for Dealing with Picky Eaters

These days, one of the most common complaints that parents have is that their kids don’t want to eat – or even try – any of the new foods that are put on their plates. While many parents may not mind preparing separate meals for the picky eaters in the family, this habit can quickly become extremely costly – and inconvenient. Below are a few great tips that will help you deal with – and conquer – picky eating as effectively as possible.

1. Include your Kids in Meal Prep

If you take your kids grocery shopping with you, ask them to help you choose fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods (within your budget, of course). While preparing meals, have your kids help by rinsing vegetables or fruits or even with meal planning for the week. If they have a hand in planning the week’s meals, they will be more likely to eat what is being served.

2. Don’t Purchase Unhealthy Foods

Although everyone deserves a treat from time to time, many parents make the mistake of keeping a stockpile of unhealthy foods and snacks in the house – and then wondering why their kids refuse to eat at meal times. If an excess of crisps, cookies, ice cream and other treats aren’t readily available in your home; your kids will learn to eat the healthier options on hand if they are hungry. Ensure that you have a steady supply of fresh fruit or even carrot sticks on hand for the, “I’m hungry” moments between meals.

3. Eat at the Dinner Table

Nowadays, many families are in the habit of slouching in the den while having dinner. This can cause kids to become distracted and not want to eat as well. Whenever possible, ensure that everyone gets together around the dinner table or even in the kitchen to enjoy at least one meal a day together. This will help everyone to focus on their meal instead of the latest TV show – and it will enable everyone to communicate with each other as well.

4. Introduce Healthier Elements to Foods that your Kids Already Eat

Most kids enjoy cereal or pancakes and it is relatively easy to add a few healthier food items into these. For example, add a few fruit slices over a bowl of cereal or add fruit chunks into the pancakes that they already enjoy. It may take a little time for your kids to get used to the new food additions, but in time, they will learn to enjoy at least a few of them.

5. Don’t Use Dessert as a Bribery Tool

Too many parents make the mistake of using dessert as a bribery tool to get their kids to finish their greens. This will not only send a message to your kids that dessert is the best food on offer; it could result in them craving more sugary junk foods than before to satisfy their sweet tooth. Instead, limit dessert to only a few nights per week, as this will make it the treat that it is supposed to be and not something that should be expected after each meal.

6. Introduce New Foods More Than Once

Many parents think that their kids don’t like a particular food because they weren’t too keen to try it for the first time. However, research has shown that it can take as many as 15 tries before a child will actually enjoy eating a new food. Simply place a small serving on their plates and try not to make an issue out of it if they don’t finish all of it the first few times it is served to them.

7. Be Realistic with Portion Sizes

Parents often have unrealistic expectations when it comes to serving new foods to their kids. A general rule of thumb is that 1 tablespoon of food should be served for each year of a child’s age. For example, a 2 year old should be served 2 tablespoons of cooked carrots, while a 6 year old should be served 6 tablespoons. However, always serve a little less than you think they will eat, as this will ensure that they don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of new food on their plates.

When dealing with picky eaters, it’s important to remember that a little persistence will go a long way. As mentioned above, it may take a few tries of a particular food before your child’s perception of it will change from “Yuck” to “Yum.”

5 Reasons to Go Organic

Although many people dismiss the consumption of organic foods as ‘just another fad,’ this is not the case. Organic foods are classified as those that have been grown or raised without the use of any chemical-based ingredients, hormone supplements or antibiotic ingredients and there are numerous reasons why you should do your best to consume as many organic meats, fruits and vegetables as possible.

1. Avoid a Large Number of Chemical Ingredients

Our bodies are exposed to literally thousands of chemical-based substances each day from personal care items, cleaning products, new clothing and furniture and of course in the foods we eat. To date, more than 600 chemicals have been registered for agricultural use in the United States, and this equates to each person consuming up to 20 pounds’ worth of them each year. Consuming as many organic fruits, vegetables and meat products as possible will help reduce your family’s exposure to pesticides and chemicals substantially.

2. Enjoy Better Tasting and More Nutritious Food

Numerous studies have revealed that foods which have been grown organically contain higher amounts of nutrients than those grown in non-organic environments. Minerals, vitamins, micronutrients and enzymes are all present in far higher amounts in organic foods because the soil they are grown in has not been depleted of its natural goodness. The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine conducted a review of 41 different published studies that compared the nutritional value of food that was organically grown to that which was grown conventionally. Results clearly showed that organic crops and meats contained far higher concentrations of nutrients.

The review further noted that five servings of organic fruits and vegetables are able to provide an adequate amount of Vitamin C each day, while the same amount of servings of conventionally grown foods doesn’t. Organic foods have the ability to provide up to 30% more Vitamin C and magnesium, and 14% more phosphorus than non-organic foods products. Another benefit of consuming organic foods is that their higher nutrient contents and the fact that they are grown naturally outdoors make them tastier than conventionally grown foods.

3. Avoid Exposure to Antibiotics and Hormones in Animal Products

If you and your family enjoy eating meat, chances are that you are consuming relatively high amounts of antibiotics and hormones if non-organic products are purchased. Growth hormones and antibiotics that are fed to conventionally raised animals are passed directly into the meat and dairy products that are then consumed by you and your family. Even cooking these meats at high temperatures doesn’t remove or reduce the hormone content in them.

Potential side effects of consuming these hormones and antibiotics on a regular basis include the development of tumors, early onset of puberty, a higher risk of developing various forms of cancer and a wide range of genetic disorders and conditions. A senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Karim Ahmed (PhD) said that the excessive use of antibiotics “is perhaps one of the most serious public health problems the country faces. We’re talking about rendering many of the most important antibiotics ineffective.”

4. Do your Bit to Reduce Pollution and Protect Natural Resources

All of the chemicals in pesticides and conventional fertilizer products are polluting the soil and environment in general – especially potable water supplies, which are dwindling fast. This is in turn destroying water supplies and valuable farmlands. When you support organic farmers, you are also supporting the use of safe and natural fertilizer products, which do not cause damage to these precious resources.

5. Enjoy Having a Healthier Family

When you choose to switch as many conventionally grown foods as possible for organic alternatives, you will be able to rest assured that your family will be healthier in the long term. Consuming foods that naturally have higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals means that you will need to rely less on supplementation to stay fit, energetic and healthy. Over the long term, you could find that your family is not sick as often as they used to be as well, which will save money on doctor’s visits.

If you think that it will be ‘too expensive’ to switch over to an all-organic diet, it’s important to consider the fact that it could potentially save you money on health care costs in the long term. When shopping at farmer’s markets, you could even find that you are able to obtain a wide range of organic fruits and vegetables for a fraction of the price of those being charged at popular chain stores.

Most Common Food Myths

Over the past few years, many myths about food have gained a tremendous amount of momentum. Below are some of the most common myths doing the rounds today.

1. Eggs Are Bad for You

Although large eggs may contain approximately 200 mg of cholesterol per yolk, extensive research has shown that most people are able to consume up to an egg a day without any risk of raising their cholesterol count to dangerous levels. Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD., R.D., a professor of nutrition at Penn State University said in this regard, “Epidemiologic studies show that most healthy people can eat an egg a day without any problems.”

Kris-Etherton further mentioned that the cholesterol you consume doesn’t have a significant impact on raising blood cholesterol levels because the body usually compensates by manufacturing less cholesterol itself. However, this doesn’t mean that you can consume an unlimited amount of eggs each week – instead, it is best to keep consumption levels to a maximum of one per day.

2. Carbs Make You Fat

Over the years, numerous people have been led to believe that consuming carbohydrates will make them fat. While refined carbs such as processed sugar, white bread and pasta and baked goods like cakes and donuts will cause you to gain weight when consumed in excess, the main reason why most people gain weight is that they consume too many calories overall, to begin with. Carb-rich foods such as beans, fruit and vegetables and whole grains should be consumed in moderate amounts each day to ensure that you get the necessary amount of fiber and nutrients in your diet.

Although it is possible to lose weight by adopting a low-carb diet, it’s important to remember that this type of eating can seem extremely restrictive in the long term – which can cause you to binge and gain even more weight.

3. Your 8 Glasses of Liquid a Day Need Not only be Water

Many people are under the impression that, as long as they are drinking 8 glasses of liquid per day, they will be able to flush toxins from their bodies. However, it is essential to ensure that you drink at least 8 glasses of pure water per day. This will help flush toxins from the liver and kidneys, which will help keep the rest of your body healthy. In addition, your skin will look more radiant and you will feel less tired during the day because you will not be dehydrated.

4. You Should Fast Regularly to Get Rid of Toxins

A lot of people have been led to believe that they need to fast every few months in order to perform a detox on their bodies. However, the body is able to detox itself naturally, thanks to the liver, spleen, and kidneys. These organs eliminate waste products and toxins from the body naturally, so there is no need for you to go on a restrictive juice fast or faddy detox diet. In fact, these diets can do more harm than good.

5. White Shell Eggs aren’t as Healthy as Brown Shell Eggs

When shopping for eggs, many people think that those with brown shells are healthier or more nutritious than those with white or pale shells. In fact, the color of the egg shells is determined by the color of the chickens that produced them. For example, chickens with white feathers and earlobes will produce white-shelled eggs, while brown-feathered birds will produce eggs with brown shells. So the next time you shop for eggs, you can rest assured that the cheaper white-shelled varieties are just as healthy as the brown ones.

6. Clear Glass Bottles are Better for Storing Milk

Although it may be better to store milk in glass bottles instead of plastic alternatives, it can turn sour quickly if the glass container is clear. Milk needs to be stored in an opaque container, as this prevents it from souring earlier than it should. A darker container will also help protect the light-sensitive B-vitamins and other nutrients that occur naturally in the milk.

Believing the food myths mentioned above could result in you spending far more on groceries than you should. When consuming foods such as eggs, dairy products, and fatty meats, it’s important to remember as well that all of these must be consumed in moderation. Increasing the number of vegetables that you consume will not only help reduce your grocery bill; it will also help reduce cholesterol levels, leaving you healthier than ever before.

Benefits of Meatless Mondays

Many people are under the impression that each dinner meal they serve their families must contain some form of meat. Although it is nice to serve meat regularly, it need not be considered as the main ingredient of every meal. In fact, there are a few benefits that you and your family can enjoy by implementing meatless Mondays to your weekly menu planning.

1. Your General Health May Improve

In many cases, people who consume higher amounts of plant-based foods can end up living longer than those who consume a lot of meat every day of the week. If you think that you’ll have to go completely vegetarian and not ever enjoy a juicy steak again in order to reap any health benefits, you would be mistaken. Research has shown that eliminating meat from your family’s diet for only one day a week can help them to live longer and healthier lives.

2. You Could Improve your Heart Health

Reducing the amount of meat you eat can help lower your cholesterol levels substantially. This could result in you experiencing lower blood pressure levels, which will in turn reduce your chances of developing heart disease later in life. It has been suggested that vegetarians have up to a 35% lower risk of dying from coronary-related conditions than people who eat meat every day. Another benefit is that you could reduce your chances of having a stroke by as much as 25% as well.

3. You Can End up Losing Weight

It’s no secret that people who eat a lot of meat struggle to lose weight far more than those who consume more of a plant-based diet. The reason for this is that meatless meals are far lower in fat and calories, which encourages your body to make use of existing fat stores to generate energy. Going meatless once a week will help reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes as well.

4. Potentially Limit your Risk of Developing Cancer

More and more evidence is coming to light which indicates that excessive consumption of meat can increase your chances of developing various forms of cancer. Opting to have one meat-free meal per week will help reduce your chance of being diagnosed with stomach, lung, esophageal, mouth, and stomach, endometrial and colorectal cancers by a substantial amount.

5. Improve the Quality of Your Diet Overall

When you reduce the amount of meat you eat, you will naturally consume more fruits and vegetables to make up for this. Incorporating beans and other protein-rich foods like eggs into your diet instead will help increase the amount of fiber, zinc, folate and magnesium your body absorbs.

6. Reduce your Grocery Budget Substantially

Meat is the most expensive component of a grocery bill – regardless of the type of meat that is purchased. Even ground beef and chicken pieces work out to be far more expensive per pound than the fanciest fruits, vegetables and eggs. Eliminating meat from one to two meals per week can help reduce your grocery bill substantially over the course of a few months.

7. Expand your Food Horizons and treat your Taste Buds

Too many people fall into a food rut of having the same combinations of meat and vegetables on their plates on the same days each week. However, when switching things up a little by incorporating meatless meals, it can encourage you to try different dishes for the first time. Pretty soon, your family will no longer be able to complain about eating the same meals all the time!

8. Decrease your Carbon Footprint Substantially

Replacing meat with meat-free alternatives not only benefits your health and your budget; it will enable you to do your bit for the environment by reducing your carbon footprint as well. It takes up to 1,800 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef compared to just over 100 gallons for one pound of plant-based crop. Farming and raising livestock for meat requires these high amounts of water because of the amount of food that has to be fed the animals throughout the duration of their lives. Doing your bit for the environment could result in a few thousand gallons of water being saved each month.

Although your family may object to not being served meat at every meal in the beginning, they will soon see that there are many tasty meals and recipes available. Over time, you could even find that they start preferring the meat-free alternatives more than meat-based dishes.