How to get your kids hooked on fish and lure them toward a lifetime of healthy eating.
By: Jodie Shield, RD
Is your family eating seafood twice a week? According to the most recent Dietary Guidelines, eating about 8 ounces of a variety of seafood each week is good for your heart. It can help cut your risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Since we develop our eating habits during childhood, it’s a good idea to get your kids hooked on eating fish. Yet as a parent, I know, even though fish may be good for kids, convincing them to eat it can sometimes be a challenge. In honor of National Seafood Month, here are a few of the strategies I’ve used to lure my kids toward fish. They’re from my book, Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens .
- Start early and keep on trying. Most of us develop our lifelong eating habits during childhood. If you offer fish to your child when she is a baby, chances are she’ll acquire a taste for it and continue to eat it as she grows. Young children may not be able to eat large 4 or 6 ounce portions, so be sure to give them a smaller amount. As kids grow, you can increase the portion size.
- Balance texture and flavor. Offer younger children fish with a soft texture, such as cod or scallops. As your child gets older, serve “steakier” types of fish with more texture, like swordfish or tuna. As for flavor, younger children are typically more receptive to mild-flavored fish, such as cod, catfish, or shrimp.
- Sneak fish into tried-and-true dishes. Adding seafood to recipes that your child already likes increases the odds that he’ll enjoy eating it. For example, try adding fish (or shellfish) to your child’s favorite soup, salad, or pasta dish. Try my Manhattan Clam Chowder or Jammin’ Jambalaya recipes.
- Be adventurous when cooking seafood. Instead of baking or broiling fish, try grilling it with barbecue sauce, poaching it in an herb-based broth, or stir-frying it with colorful vegetables.
- Live in a fish bowl. Be a role model and eat fish, too. Remember your little minnows are watching every bite you take!
One of my favorite sites to visit to learn more about fish and shellfish is the Seafood Educators site. They have lots of tips and recipes to help you get your family “hooked” on fish. One fish, two fish – what fish are you going to try this week?