Most moms have a common mealtime struggle: getting their kids to eat their veggies. And who can blame the kids? There are more malasa options out there, from fried chicken, to instant noodles, and ice cream or cakes for dessert. There are few kids who would opt for a crunchy carrot stick, if there is anything breaded and deep fried within a five –mile radius.
But, of course, efforts have to be made to get kids to eat (and enjoy) their "glow foods." Moms have to find really clever ways of presenting them as a food that nourishes and is a treat at the same time. Some might cut the veggies into clever shapes, for instance, or hide them in fave dishes. Another option that is now available to Pinoy moms is to give kids veggie juice. Tipco, a juice brand from Thailand, is now in the Philippines, with fruit and veggie juice in variants such as Broccoli, Spinach, Tangerine Orange, Purple Carrot, Pomegranate, Orange Medley, Aloe Vera and Cranberry. These are said to be made from extracts of the real thing, with no sugar added. The company also recently introduced their Superkid juice line, where the healthy veggie and fruit juices are now available in baon size.
At the media conference for Tipco’s Superkid juices, celebrity mom MaricelLaxa-Pangilinan shared her tips on getting her family to eat healthy. Maricel says that she goes by the principle of Garbage In, Garbage Out. “Introduce them to foods that are good for them, and foods that will not be good for them. They have to understand that what is good for them will be beneficial to their bodies, and what is not good for them will have side effects. There is a direct consequence to their food choices.”
It may be a challenge to get kids to love healthy food, but it can be done. Here are Maricel’s tips.
1. Remember that children have small tummies.“How come we give them big portions and tell them to finish what is on their plate? We have to understand that we cannot feed them a mountain of rice. Sometimes children do not have an appreciation of food if it is served on a big platter and has all sorts of things on it.”
2. Presentation is key. “Kids will choose something that is well-decorated and well thought of. They see food on TV and they look so appetizing and nice, and they will liketo eat it compared to something that is presented in a haphazard way.”
3. Taste matters. “If the food doesn’t taste good, they will not eat it. If it is salty, bland, with too much, or too little of anything,chances are they will not finish their food. Sometimes it may also be the fault of the cook.”
4. No rushing. “We often tell our kids to eat faster or they will be late. These children develop a habit of eating too fast and just gulp it downwith water. Then, they get bloated and get on the heavy side. Afterwhich, we would tell them to slow down. That's confusing. The point is, we really should not rush them. They will not develop an appreciation for food. Remember, you have to taste vegetables at least 20 times before you acquire a taste for them.
5. No forcing. Maricel shares, “I don’t eat ampalaya. I have been a vegetarian for several years, but I never liked to eat ampalaya. The reason, I guess, is because my Lola would have a slipper on stand by while she forced me to eat it. With my own daughter, there is no forcing. I simply made sure that she had healthy food like grapes beside her when she is watching TV. When we go out, there are cut up veggies in the car, and they would crunch on them during the trip. They were not forced to eat vegetables and fruits.They were just there.”
6. It’s ok to have fun. “Children should be able to enjoy eating out. We had our three-year-old dine with is in fine dining restaurants. We encourage the kids to sit down and enjoy the dinner, without forcing them to sit still. Also, allow them to explore the kitchen and maybe make meals themselves. Allow them to help draft a weekly menu. Having fun is something that has to be strategic, engage your children, give them a chance to say what they want to buy at the grocery. Engage with them, enjoy the food with them at mealtime without the distractions of a cell phone or the TV.
7. Make it a habit. “Everyday, when the kids come home, there is a feast waiting for them. I just sit down and start eating, and I don’t force them to join me. One by one, they sit down with me,and we would start talking about their day.”
8. Set an example. “You cannot prohibit them from something and then, turn around and eat them yourself. I used to be a soft drink junkie, but my mom started making herself herbal teas from things from the garden, and I was influenced that way to make healthier choices.”
By MAAN D’ASIS PAMARAN