Encourage Picky Eaters To Try Calcium-Rich Foods

Just because children need foods rich in calcium doesn’t mean it’s easy to get them to eat what is good for them. Our tips help encourage healthy eating.

No one needs calcium more than a growing child. Between the ages of 9 and 18, when bones are forming and calcium needs are highest, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies’ Food and Nutrition Board recommends that children eat a daily diet including 1300 mg of calcium.

Serving a dinner complete with calcium-rich kale or other leafy greens can be a lot easier than convincing your child to eat every last bite on the plate. If your child is sensitive to tastes or has aversions to certain food textures, mealtime can be particularly challenging. But picky eaters need calcium too. We have some suggestions to help you make family meals a healthy and happy experience for everyone.

Introduce new foods strategically. Too much change is tough for anyone. Instead of introducing three or four new foods in one meal, try serving one new food with two or three familiar dishes.

Involve children in food preparation. When children help select food at the market and participate in meal preparation, they are more engaged—and invested—in family meals, and are learning habits of healthy eating that they can carry into adulthood.

Disguise healthy foods if it helps. Your child may find vegetables more palatable if you puree them into a sauce for lasagna than if you serve them sautéed on the plate.

Eat the foods you want your child to eat. If your child sees you enjoying a kale salad or grilled vegetables, they will be more willing to try these foods themselves.

Embrace inventive presentations. Don’t give up on a food just because you’ve served it two or three times and your child has refused to eat it. It may take ten attempts to win over young taste buds. Keep trying new preparations until you find the one that is a hit.

With parental modeling, persistence, and ingenuity, you will see that your child gets the calcium needed for growing bones, and teach your child habits that can add up to a lifetime of healthy eating.

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