Toddlers can go through phases where you just can’t get them to eat what’s on their plate. Sometimes they make a face when you serve them veggies, and sometimes they push away a plate that has meat on it. Don’t worry! Your child will not go hungry or miss out on the nutrition they need as a growing child.
A vegetarian diet is a healthy way to eat. It is easier now more than ever to feed someone who doesn’t eat meat because of all of the meatless options available to us. Parents should know that their child may just be a picky eater and outgrow their “no meat” phase, but if not, here are some simple tips for feeding your vegetarian.
There are different types of vegetarians, and many reasons why your child might not want to eat meat, including a love for animals and their environment. Ask your child if there is a specific reason for not eating meat and discuss what it means. Tell them you will work with them to make sure they still have a healthy diet and are getting enough calories throughout the day.
Know What Kids Should be Eating
Vegetarians should be eating dairy products, eggs and bread for vitamin B12, which is essential for growth and development. And although we think of eating meat as the best way to get B12, eating other animal foods, such as eggs, milk and cheese, is also a great way to get this nutrient in a diet. If your child is hesitant to eat animal foods as well, you can try serving them B12 fortified cereals and soy milk. If this still doesn’t work, speak to your child’s pediatrician about getting a B12 supplement.
Don’t Forget Vitamin C
Iron intake isn’t a problem for kids who eat lots of produce, grains, dried fruits and cereals. But plant-based iron is not easily absorbed into the body, so it’s smart to serve food and drinks high in vitamin C with iron-rich meals. Pour a glass of orange juice when serving a bowl of cereal or add lemon to a glass of water. Adding broccoli or spinach as a side dish to a meal also helps.
Monitor Milk Consumption
Milk does a body good but drinking too much as a vegetarian can block iron absorption and cause your child to become full quickly, affecting how much she eats when food is served. Give your child enriched soy milk to see if they like it. It contains iron and will help with calcium intake.
Keep Things Interesting
Today, there are so many meat replacements – from tofu and mushrooms to beans and eggplant. Grill up some veggie burgers for the whole family and set up a topping bar with all the fixings, or get out the chopsticks and fry up some vegan fried rice.
Almonds. Cashews. Peanuts. Walnuts. Pecans. With so many varieties of nuts available, it’s easy to find a few that your child will like. They are easy to eat, and a great source of protein. Serve them mixed together or topped on a salad.
Remember All the Food Groups
As long as you create a nutrient-rich diet and include foods from all of the food groups, your child will continue to grow big and strong. If you feel that your child isn’t getting enough healthy meals, or you want to learn more about vegetarianism, speak to your child’s pediatrician.