Introducing Healthy Foods to Children
When parents introduce healthy food choices to their children, they sometimes encounter a wrinkled nose or a refusal to eat something green. Frequently, children with disabilities require greater amounts of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients which are found in foods often not preferred by children. Also, children with conditions such as autism may have sensory processing difficulties which make them more likely to be picky eaters. Thus, parents or guardians have an opportunity - and maybe an obligation - to help their children develop positive attitudes towards food and adopt lifelong healthy eating and active lifestyles.
Listed below are a few tips that can be helpful when introducing new healthy food to children.
- Always provide food at the meal that your child likes (bread, fruit) in addition to the 'new' food.
- Plan healthy snacks a few times during the day to help meet nutritional needs.
- Provide a calm, relaxed meal time.
- Introduce one 'new' food at a time.
- Include a small portion of a new food and serve everyone at the table the same food, unless food allergies are a concern.
- Provide adequate time for eating (especially if child is working on self-feeding skills).
- Encourage socialization with everyone at the table during meal time.
- Involve your children in food preparation of the 'new' food (i.e., ask them to count enough carrot sticks for everyone, serve the broccoli, or stir the fruit salad).
Healthy Snack Recipe - Banana Pumpkin Shake
- 1 cup skim milk
- 2 Tablespoons canned pumpkin
- 1 banana
- Dash of cinnamon
Blend in blender until smooth and foamy. Serve immediately
For more information about autism and nutrition, please read NCPAD's factsheet at /92/694/Autism~and~Nutrition