Ba­sic in­gre­di­ents, small bites can make a big dif­fer­ence for finicky eaters

Dayton Daily News - - L!FE - By Natalie Knoth Staff Writer

DAY­TON — Pack­ing a healthy lunch is rel­a­tively easy to do, but get­ting your child to eat that healthy lunch is an­other chal­lenge en­tirely. State and na­tion­wide nutrition ini­tia­tives such as the Healthy Choices for Healthy Chil­dren Act and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act have prompted par­ents to seek out health­ier foods for their fam­i­lies, said An­gela Krile, me­dia re­la­tions con­tact for Healthy Choices for Healthy Chil­dren. It’s a dif­fi­cult task, Krile ac­knowl­edged, given that many par­ents are more time-crunched now than ever be­fore.

“I think the food in­dus­try is re­spond­ing to the need, and we’re find­ing health­ier pre-pack­aged meals,” Krile said.

Mon­ica A. Cen­gia, a reg­is­tered and li­censed di­eti­tian in pri­vate prac­tice in Cen­ter­ville, said some sim­ple changes — like switch­ing from reg­u­lar car­rots to baby car­rots — can win over even the pick­i­est of eaters.

“For young chil­dren, reg­u­lar car­rots can look like ‘big woody tree stumps,’” Cen­gia said. “A 4-or 5-year-old is not go­ing to want to bite into a small tree trunk. And if it’s not easy to chew, that’s go­ing to dis­cour­age the child.”

She said kids usu­ally pre­fer fruits and veg­eta­bles that are sliced, cut up or cubed. When Cen­gia’s now-grown chil­dren were in school, she no­ticed a com­mon theme: Of­ten, food that was messy or re­quired ex­tra ef­fort to eat was left in the lunch box.

“If I sent an orange with one, do you think they’d peel it and eat it? Prob­a­bly not,” Cen­gia re­called. “I’d make four cuts at the top of the orange so they could peel it, and then I’d put it in two Zi­plocs be­cause it’s juicy.”

Marin Gil­bert, a di­eti­tian at Chil­dren’s Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Day­ton, said par­ents of­ten skimp on fruits and veg­eta­bles while over­do­ing junk foods.

“Par­ents think, ‘Oh, they need a sweet treat or cookie, and oc­ca­sion­ally we’ll throw in a fruit or veg­gie,’ ” Gil­bert said. “It’s OK to pack a sweet treat, but of­ten kids are get­ting plenty through­out the school day, such as at a class party. Don’t feel like you have to pack a cookie or a brownie.”

Kim Hanks, 35, of Bell­brook found shish kabobs to be a novel way to get her 5-year-old son Tris­tan to eat a nu­tri­tious lunch. At the be­gin­ning of the school year, Tris­tan was ner­vous

Jake West­gerdes, 11, made this healthy wrap sandwich with chicken, car­rots, broccoli, tor­tilla and Ital­ian dress­ing.

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