You think you’re alone in the struggle to get your child to try new foods, but we’re here to reassure you that many parents have the same issue. Infact, as many as 50% of parents consider their children to be picky eaters.
Tackling picky eating can be frustrating and finding ways to ensure your little ones are getting the variety of nutrients they need to grow can be challenging.
Here are some effective ways to help children try and enjoy new foods.
INVOLVE YOUR KIDS IN MEAL PLANNING AND COOKING
Bring children along to the supermarket to help pick out a few healthy items and let them help you in the kitchen. Safe tasks such as washing foods or arranging food on plates will also help them develop new skills.
Research shows that children who are involved in meal preparation are more likely to consume vegetables than those that don’t.
SMALLER IS BETTER
You might be tempted to feed your children larger portions to ensure they get the calories they need, however, when trying new foods smaller is better. If they do well with the smaller portions, slowly increase the amount of new food at subsequent meals.
BE CREATIVE WITH RECIPES AND PRESENTATION
Some kids tend be put off by the appearance or texture of certain foods, which is why making food look appealing is important. Presenting food in creative ways such as using star cookie cutters for veg, will look more appetizing. (We’ve listed a few ideas at the bottom of this article to try out with your picky eater)
CUT OUT DISTRACTIONS DURING MEALS
Create a distraction free environment for children during mealtime. It can be tempting to let them watch TV or play a game while eating, but it’s not a good habit for picky eaters to develop. Always seat children at a table for meals, turn off the TV, put away toys, books and electronics so that they can focus on the task in hand.
USE MINDFUL EATING TECHNIQUES
Encouraging your child to be mindful and pay attention to their feelings of hunger and fullness may lead to changes in your picky eater.
Ask questions like: “Does your tummy have room for another bite?” or “Does this taste yummy to you?”. Always respect that your child has a point of fullness and don’t encourage them to eat beyond that point.
KEEP EXPOSING YOUR CHILD TO NEW FOODS
Pay attention to your child’s preferences and tastes and texture preferences. For example if your child like crunchy foods such as crackers and bread sticks, try them with raw vegetables and dips or apple slices with a natural nut butter. If your child likes softer foods like yoghurts and bananas, try them with softer foods like mashed sweet potato or porridge.
CUT BACK ON UNHEALTHY SNACKING
Allowing children to fill up on snacks throughout the day will make them less likely to eat at mealtimes. Be consistent with snack times allowing them to develop an appetite before their next meal.
ENCOURAGE EATING WITH FRIENDS
Strategise meal times by inviting more adventurous eaters of the same age to eat with your children. By watching other children enjoy new foods, it might encourage them to eat them too.
If you still have concerns after implementing the above, then you might need to consider:
Allergies have clear symptoms such as rashes, itching, and swelling but intolerances are harder to identify.
If your child tends to shy away from gluten or dairy products, or cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower, they maybe experiencing some discomfort relating to a food intolerance.
If you think your child has a food intolerance seek advice from a nutritionist.
Are you a food role model?
Children learn about foods by watching the eating behaviours of others and though you may not realise it, your children are impacted by your food choices.
Try increasing your fruits and vegetables and have them as snacks infront of your child. Making healthy eating the norm in your house, and letting your children observe you eating nutritious foods can help them gain the confidence to try them too.
Consider help from a specialist
Peaky eating in children is common, but there are warning signs that should never be ignored.
If you notice any of the following contact your GP for help
- Difficulty swallowing
- Abnormally slow growth and development
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Crying when eating, indicating pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Anxiety, aggression, sensory reactivity or repetitive behaviour indicating autism
FOOD IDEAS FOR FUSSY EATERS
Hidden Veg Sauce
What a hero this one is! There’s no limit to what you can disguise in this!
All you need is a 400g can of chopped tomatoes, a garlic clove, a pinch of dried herbs, and a tbsp. of olive oil.
Next choose 4-5 vegetables. Anything goes, fresh or frozen! Pan fry until soft then blend it up and store in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container. We like to use courgettes, peppers, onions and butternut squash. Use it with homemade burgers, as a pasta sauce or as the base of a soup (add a stock cube and water)
Using the sauce above, get your kids involved in making a gluten free base for the pizza and adding toppings they like. You’ve already got the veggies in the sauce so any other veggies on the top are a bonus!
If your little ones aren’t keen on the texture of meat, then try using cooked lentils instead. If you can’t get away with diced veggies in there, then try mashing broccoli and butternut squash in with the potato topping.
Veggies and Hummus
Homemade hummus is super easy to make. You need a can of chick peas, 4tbsp olive oil, 4 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp. tahini, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp coriander seed, 1tsp cumin. Whizz it all up and served chilled with carrot sticks, sliced peppers, cucumber sticks or pitta bread fingers.
Kind of an omelette.. pretending to be pizza!
Cook off some veggies – mushrooms, peppers, red onions work well or use any leftover veg you have from other meals. Pour the egg mixture into the frying pan covering the veggies. You can add some ham on top or a sprinkling of cheese.
Leave it on the heat for the bottom to set for a couple of minutes, then transfer to under the grill until set. Slice up into pizza triangles and serve hot or cold. (great for lunch boxes!)
Cakes with hidden veg.
All across google you will find recipes for avocado brownies, black bean brownies, courgette muffins, banana breads and beetroot chocolate cakes to name a few. Here’s link to some Recipes
Source: net mums.com