Why is eating a variety of foods important?
Getting your children to eat a variety of foods is important because every single food group and each food within that food group gives your child different micro-and macronutrients. No two food items provide the exact same nutrients, and therefore it is important to eat an assortment of foods.
Making sure your child eats a wide variety of foods will also help ensure they meet their daily requirements of the different nutrients, and therefore will be less likely to develop any deficiencies.
Different nutrients can also benefit your child’s brain development and help them get to their full potential.
Patience – it’s the ‘long game’ approach!
Introducing and offering a variety of foods to your child will pay off in the long run – trust me. I am not saying serve a full portion at each meal and waste the food not eaten. You only need to serve one slice of apple or a piece of carrot to make a difference.
Many parents stop giving foods their child has tried once and didn’t enjoy. But if you stop exposing your children to different foods, they will never learn to like them and are at risk for developing nutrient deficiencies.
Remember each food has a different smell, taste, and texture! It can take weeks or even months for your children to start eating a new food. Exposure is key!
What you can do:
- Serve a few different fruits and veggies each day.
- Serve different colours (a rainbow plate).
- Serve them warm, cold and at room temperature.
- Serve them in different shapes and sizes (i.e., sliced, chopped, grated, or even use a cookie cutter for different shapes).
- Serve different versions of the same food (i.e., mashed, raw, cooked or with a dip).
- Lead by example (have a wide variety of food on your plate as well).
- Make eating a positive experience (Pressuring, bribing, and threatening your child to try a new food will backfire. Rather just keep exposing them to it, and eventually they will be more adventurous).
- Be patient- this takes time.
KIAH BENGIS (MSc Dietetics)
Franchise Owner – Clamber Club Parties – Fourways