In this episode of Kara's Cooking Show, Kara makes tropical smoothies! Download the kid-friendly visual recipe she used below.
Kara brings her brother, Gabriel, onto her show and they search for carrots at the grocery store and then try the different carrots they found! Watch for their funny reactions and encourage your children to do some carrot tasting as well!
We've recently taken on an exciting new project - a children's cooking show! This show is run by children, for children, to help model trying new foods, cooking activities, and other food activities. Check out our first episode, where Kara makes apple ring donuts. Make sure to subscribe to the channel to get all the episodes as they come out!
I take my daughter’s uneaten snack from her backpack after camp and look at her questioningly, while she’s scarfing down her lunch as if she hadn't eaten in days. “I didn’t have time to eat!” she says, defensively. She’s been to many different camps this summer, and this story continues to repeat itself. “I only had part of my snack and they told us it was time to go.” or “I was talking to my friends and then snack was over!” I heard the same thing many days after she came home from kindergarten. “I ate half of it and the bell rang!” “I didn’t have time to even try it.” I’ve seen it in person - kids throwing away entire lunches that had barely been nibbled in order to get to their next class or run out to recess. I find myself strategizing with my daughter on how to get the most of her 5 minute snack time so she doesn’t leave camp ravenous.
I’m left wondering why. Why are we teaching children that other things are so much more important than taking their time to socialize and eat their food? Why are we teaching them to scarf down food as quickly as possible to go on to the next task? Why are we teaching children that what they eat depends on the time they have, rather than what their bodies need?
Children should be learning that meals are about taking a breath and enjoying a moment with friends. They should be learning that they can take a bite and enjoy their food. They should be learning that food fuels their body and it’s important to take the time to eat to have energy for all the other things. Children should have time to actually try the vegetables that they were required to accept due to regulations about school lunches rather than learning the habit of it going straight into the garbage.
Childcare providers, camps, schools, I urge you to consider what we are teaching kids by rushing them through mealtimes. Add a few minutes on and use the opportunity to model social skills with children. Use the extra few minutes to talk about healthy food choices. Use the extra time to actually enjoy a meal.
A fun summer treat to make with kids.
It can be a little scary as a parent or caregiver to introduce a new food to a picky eater. The way you do it can make all the difference! One fun way is to talk about how different animals eat and have fun interacting with new foods. Download and use this visual to guide your interaction.
Here is a guide for using the visual:
In our last post, we talked about giving children choices about how to interact with foods to remove some of the pressure that comes with being asked to take a bite. Download the visual below to use with your children to help them make a choice!
“Please. Just take one bite. One little bite.”
How many times have you uttered those words? How many times were you met with a “No!”? The more you beg, the more your child refuses. Does this scenario sound familiar?
Taking a bite is actually a much bigger demand than we may realize. Imagine somebody sitting in front of you with a food that doesn’t look at all appetizing, begging you to just take a bite. You likely wouldn’t want to do it.
Here are two tips for what to do instead:
1. Offer choices about how to try a new food: Do you want to touch it or try a lick of it? This still gives your child control of the situation but also doesn’t allow for a “No!” answer.
Be specific with your choices. Instead of open ended questions (“what do you want to try?”) give two very specific choices (“Do you want to try the turkey or cheese next?”)
2. Don’t wait for a bite before you praise your child: It’s easy to get stuck on wanting to see your child take a bite and swallow food. However, this is a big ask and can bring a lot of pressure into mealtime. If you allow an easier interaction such as touching or smelling a new food, you’ll be able to reward your child doing something new and keep mealtime happy! In a future post, we’ll talk about how to work your way up to bites.
Here are some other examples of choices you can provide to give your child control while still encouraging interactions with food:
Children benefit from being involved in the mealtime process in various ways. Participating in grocery store trips is a great way to get your children involved in the process. Let's face it though, grocery store trips with children aren't always the most pleasant. Here's something to get them more involved while also keeping them busy so you can get your shopping done without added stress. Download this scavenger hunt and encourage your children to circle the foods they see. You can get creative and have them look for foods that are made out of the foods pictured, as well. For example, instead of just sticking to the produce section, have them look at pictures on juices and yogurts to look for the items on their list.
“Chew with your mouth closed.”
“Take a bite of broccoli.”
“Don’t spit that out!”
“Keep your bottom on the chair.”
“Don’t talk with your mouth full.”
“Use your fork.”
“Try it. I know you’ll like it”
“COME BACK TO THE TABLE!”
Does this sound familiar? This is a fairly common mealtime soundtrack, one that I catch myself falling back into regularly. The other thing I’ve noticed is that the more instructions I give, the less likely my children are to respond. When I try to take the perspective of my children, it’s no wonder they don’t want to be at mealtime.
This time that is supposed to be about nourishment and social interactions actually can feel pretty negative and not fun. It’s a constant conscious effort to change my own behavior at mealtimes, especially after an exhausting day. While it isn’t easy, I’ll be the first to tell you it is very much worth it. So, here are some ways to be more thoughtful about mealtime related instructions to improve the experience for everyone.
I’m going to challenge you to track the instructions you give at the next few mealtimes. Pay attention to your child’s responses. Then, try the above strategies and note the difference it makes for both you and your children. Is mealtime starting to feel more enjoyable and less stressful?