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DHA for the Picky Eaters!

31/10/2017

The early years of your child’s life is a period of incredible growth. During this time, it is important that our little ones get all the nutrients that are crucial for good health and development, including DHA. Widely known as the brain-building nutrient, DHA is an essential fatty acid that helps to build cells, support the nervous system and help the body absorb nutrients. (Ref 1). The European Food Safety Authority recommends that young children be given a minimum of 100mg of DHA per day through various food sources.

 

But what if we have a picky eater who may not want to his greens and DHA-rich foods? Fret not, we’ve got five tips for you to try!

 

1) Weekend Family Grocery Shopping!

 

 

 

 

A great way of getting your toddler excited about eating well is to get him/her involved in the family's food decisions. As soon as your child is old enough to manage it, ask him to hold the grocery list for you as you shop. Give him a few comparable food choices along the way: Bananas or Apples? Peas or nuts? Graham crackers or granola bars? Make a habit of selecting one new fruit or vegetable to try each week. Getting our children more involved in their choices may help them accept the food which he had picked up.

 

The trip is also a great opportunity for parents to educate them about the nutritional value of different types of food.

 

It is important to also set good examples for your child when you are on the shopping trip. Pick up healthier food options for your family and explain why you pick that option! Besides reinforcing the benefits of food, your child will slowly begin to mimic your behaviour and adopt healthier choices too.

 

 

2) Mommy’s little kitchen helper

 

 

 

Now that we have our ingredients for a healthy meal, get them involved in preparing food for the family too!

 

While our children may not be at the age where they can handle a frying pan, we can involve our children in the preparatory process of mixing ingredients in bowls, washing vegetables, arranging the garnishes on the plate or even getting them to read off the recipes!

 

To manage your fussy eater, have them take their veggies and decorate them in a way they like it. Use cookie cutters or bowls with their favourite sauces and have them place them on their own plate. It could be decorating their mound of rice with a carrot smiley face or forming mini alphabets on top of their dishes using vegetables.

 

A good trick would be to have them decorate the plates for the whole family, encouraging them to take charge and think of ways to get the whole family to eat more vegetables!

 

While preparing food, take the chance to teach children healthier food preparation decisions. For example, using lesser oil to fry items so that foods will not be as oily, opting to stir fry other than deep fry, preparing healthier sauces rather than heavier and fattening mayonnaise dips etc.

 

For desserts, have your children decide on the fruit for the evening and help them cut it up. Empower them to be health champions by getting them to serve the fruit out to the family!

 

Another way of encouraging toddlers to eat happily and healthily is to make fun bento boxes. These fun meal boxes can brighten up your children’s mood while munching on their food without missing out on vitamins which are also necessary for their development.

 

It is important to not forget about their increased need for a nutritious meal and to supplement their diets with key nutrients such as DHA! You can include their gummies and use the various shapes of gummies to decorate their meals!

 

3) Shake your fruits up and make a fruitshake!

 

 

 

Smoothies are an easy way to get fruits and other nutritious foods into your child's diet. All you need is a blender and a few simple ingredients. You can use your choice of fresh fruit, frozen fruit (such as berries or bananas), or even canned pineapple or peaches but be sure to strain the syrup first.

 

You can also include milk to ensure your children gets their calcium intake too!

 

To pack it with the DHA goodness, you can include Scott’s DHA gummies for the added supplement to help support your child’s brain and eye development! In this way, your child can still enjoy his/her blended drink locked with all the nutritional goodness.

 

 

4) Colour me healthy!

 

 

 

Using the colours from our food are a fantastic way to encourage children to eat healthily! Not only do they look appealing and visually more appetising, healthier food options do actually come in a variety of colours!

 

Start by pairing colours of your ingredients wherever possible. A great example would be to add grated carrots (orange) to a bowl of tomato sauce (red). Add that to a bowl of whole grain pasta (yellow) and top it up with some broccoli (green)! Excite your child by talking about the colours first and have them identify the different foods before they eat!

 

Another example could be to consider sprinkles of colour in your food as garnishes! A simple plate for stir fried browned chicken could be served with iceberg cabbages or lettuce bowls. Pan-seared salmon could have broccoli and kale as garnishes or as a side salad for the children. Be creative with your options – always remember that kids are attracted to colours!

 

 

5) From farm to your table

 

 

 

Take your children to a local vegetable farm or garden so that they can see how vegetables are grown! Children in the pre-schooler years tend to be extremely curious about the world around them. Make learning all about their food fun by introducing the source of their food, especially fruits and vegetables to them!

 

Leverage on their curiosity to introduce vegetables and fruit by sharing with them how they are grown! Getting them into the process of harvesting and washing their own hand-picked vegetables could be quite the experience for the kids!

 

Take the opportunity to make a salad on the spot if possible! There are a number of local farms in Singapore which offers a marketplace within their farm to purchase fresh produce or arrange a harvesting experience! Some of these farms have their own kitchens for you and your family to whip a storm with your produce! More of this can be found over here

 

Ref 1: Lauritzen, Lotte, et al. “DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function.” Nutrients, vol. 8, no. 1, Apr. 2016, p. 6., doi:10.3390/nu8010006.

 

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© Rise & Shine is established to provide our children with a better opportunities for their upcoming future. Our founding vision was to help and educate parents to nurture healthier, happier and brighter children. As part of what we do, we organise parenting workshops, carnivals and the largest play and educational festival in Asia. We also organise a series of children events throughout the year where families can bond, learn and have fun.

 

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