Youth Psychology when using Fun Recipes
Last week, we talked about the goals of DYKB. One of the central themes that led to the foundation of Kids Healthy Yum Yum Eating was to create engaging recipes that families can enjoy. But what makes a fun recipe? Today, we’re going to talk about some of the psychology behind childhood food habits as well as ways to make mealtimes more fun.
Why is it important to Eat Healthy?
According to the CDC, the prevalence of child obesity went to almost 20% in 2018 and was even more common as children grew up. This can be due to several eating choices such as:
Fast Foods: Getting a burger or a kid’s meal from a restaurant is a convenient way to get a meal that children will love. However, most of the foods have been cooked in an unnecessary amount of oil and unsaturated fats.
Sugary Drinks and Cereals: Though companies may market it otherwise, many of the “sports” drinks and breakfast cereals contain much more sugar than advertised.
Freezer Meals: There are several freezers that kids can take to school and microwave for a quick meal. However, these typically contain less nutrition and more chemicals than their homemade counterparts.
These diet choices, though unhealthy, typically tend to draw more children because of their high sugar content and taste. However, through simple acts in your daily routine, you can teach children not to eat healthier - but enjoy it too.
The Science Behind Picky Eating
Picky eating. Most children may refuse vegetables, grains, and other common food groups during mealtime. At first, this may seem like a phase or a step that every kid has to grow through. However, there is actual science behind the nature of picky eating. Let’s talk about some possible explanations, as well as ways to resolve them.
After the age of 7 or 8, children start to develop taste and preferences for food. This may mean that they’re more anxious to try new, healthier alternatives. Anytime you might present a new dish, recipe, or even food item will be met with resistance on their part. If this occurs, try exploring their feelings together. Ask questions like How does it smell? What do you think it will taste like? Want to try? in order to invoke curiosity and experimentation.
Change the vocabulary you have around foods. When a kid refuses to eat their greens at dinner, it’s common to say something like “finish your broccoli and you can have an extra slice of cake”. However, this is actually counterproductive to what parents want to do. By negotiating with them, parents are subtly sending the message that eating healthy foods is a chore they have to do to get to the real reward - dessert.
Making Fun Recipes
Instead of forcing your child to finish the meal, try to solve problems together. This can come in many ways. Ask them to take a nibble or poke around with their dinner. Give them only two options to choose from, such as “would you like carrots or peas with dinner?” or “is it a fruit or veggie night?”, so that they are more excited about what to eat. Another great way to engage your children with the meal is to switch up the menu.
In summary, children become picky eaters because they’re too afraid to try new things or they view eating vegetables as a chore. However, if you convince them that cooking and eating are fun, enjoyable activities to do together, then you change the entire mindset they have about food.
Try setting time aside each week to come up with meals together. Ask them what they’re in the mood for and only give them healthy options to choose from. Once you’ve decided together, they’ll be much more excited to eat the meal.