We’ve been talking about ways to improve our lives and homes. From better time management to frugal living to improved eating habits, there’s no shortage of information and inspiration available when moms put their heads together.
Remember a few weeks ago when you all submitted your nutrition questions? Today we’ll look at one mom’s perspective on the answers.
Elizabeth Somer, MA, is a registered dietician that is the author of nine books including Food & Mood and also is the spokesperson for 8th Continent Complete Soymilk. A mother of two, Elizabeth has carved a unique professional niche as an expert on nutrition research who can relay technical information in a fun way to the general public.
I really appreciated your thoughtful questions, and her answers are great food for thought.
1. What tricks do you have for getting picky toddlers to eat their veggies?
Stop buying the potato chips, soda pop, and sugar-coated cereals, and start stocking the kitchen with nutritious foods. Then, make these nutritious foods readily available and easy to reach. Children usually turn their noses up at anything new. So keep offering the food, but don’t force the child to eat it. Just because your daughter says she doesn’t like green beans today doesn’t mean she won’t like them next week, next month, or next year, especially if she sees you eating them regularly.
Also, hide nutritious foods or add them to familiar foods. Grate carrots and zucchini into spaghetti sauce, add grated veggies into muffin batters or chili.
Another strategy is soup. Many kids will eat veggies in soup when they won’t eat them otherwise, so toss green peas or carrots into chicken noodle soup.
Model the behavior. If you want your children to love veggies, you must love them, serve and eat them at every meal.
Finally, avoid the food wars at the table. It is your job to serve good food, but it is your child’s job to eat it. Don’t force a child to eat anything.
2. I know that too much fiber can cost digestive issues — should fiber intake have a cut-off point? Is there a point where it ceases to be any additionally efficacious? Thanks!
Too much fiber is seldom a problem in this country. The vast percentage of children are not getting enough fiber. If your child is getting the 5+ servings of colorful fruits and vegetables, the 5+ servings of whole grains, and 1 or 2 servings of legumes, that will supply a healthy, but not excessive, dose of fiber. You don’t need to buy bran cereals or fiber-fortified foods if your child is eating real, unprocessed foods already rich in fiber.
3. How much nutrition am I really missing out on if I just hate vegetables?
Huge. I mean huge. The most important dietary advice for everyone from toddlers to centenarians is to eat at least 5+ servings of colorful fruits and vegetables a day. These foods not only are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber that lower the risk for everything from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes to cataracts, memory loss, and hypertension, but they also are the richest sources of thousands and thousands of phytonutrients, many of which are antioxidants that work as teams to prevent disease, boost immunity, and prolong healthy years.
A vegetable-rich diet also helps a person manage their weight. There are 100s of vegetables, so if a child doesn’t like mustard greens, he may like carrots. If he doesn’t like raw carrots, try them grated or cooked, added to soups or even disguised in smoothies. Puree vegetables until creamy and add them to soup stocks, too.
Colorful vegetables (not potatoes or head lettuce) are the very best, but if a child absolutely won’t eat vegetables after you have encouraged this every single day for months, then turn to fruit as an alternative. Fruit is packed full of some of the same vitamins and minerals as vegetables. For example, a handful of dried apricots has the same or more vitamin A and iron as a half cup of cooked mustard greens. And, do kids ever eat that?!
Lastly, speaking of nutrition, congratulations to the winners of week two of giveaways sponsored by 8th Continent Soy Milk. Each of the following winners will receive two coupons, each good for a half-gallon of 8th Continent Complete.
Complete is the first soymilk to include Omega-3 DHA for increased brain & eye development, fiber for better digestion, and calcium for optimum bone health.
This week’s winners are
Bridgett of Crowley
Janeen of Kent
Molly of Seneca
Heather of Litchfield
Come back tomorrow for the start of giveaway #3!