Today I have a guest post from the Energetic Mama, Jessica Donovan. Fussy eating is something that I am no stranger to. I know the feeling of cooking a beautiful dinner only to have it thrown on the floor or smooshed into the table. I am sure you will find Jessica’s tips as helpful as I have.
Fussy eating is the bane of many parents existence! After all we spend what feels like our entire lives in the kitchen so when our delightful children blurt out “yuck, I’m not eating that” as we put dinner in front of them it can be a little more than infuriating!
Is it really possible to get a fussy eater to eat the meal you have spent the last hour preparing?
Maybe not today, nor tomorrow but over time it is possible to improve your child’s eating habits over time. Here’s what I recommend
The ‘This is what we are having for dinner’ approach
The biggest mistake I see parents make when it comes to feeding their kids is ‘giving in’ because it prevents tantrums or arguments. Giving kids what they want to eat (which let’s face is usually sugary, processed rubbish marketed as kids food) only leads to more fussiness long term. Sure it will prevent conflict at the time but long term it narrows a Childs food horizons. You will never broaden a Childs food horizons by asking them what they want for dinner every night. They need to be encouraged to try different foods by being served what the family is eating.
Kids in the Kitchen
Not giving your children an endless choice in what they have for dinner every night doesn’t mean that kids shouldn’t have a say in what the family is eating. In fact, I encourage parents to get their kids involved in the food journey. If kids have been involved in the creation of a meal, whether it was planting herb seedlings and taking care of them, picking out the vegetables at the market, chopping, mixing, cooking or serving the meal they will be more interested in eating it.
A Fresh food kitchen
Kids will eat what is available to them, so if the kitchen is stocked with white bread, packets of biscuits, chips, shapes and lollies then that is what they will eat. On the other hand, if there is an array of fruits, vegetables, nuts and other healthy foods on hand there food choices will change. If your kids are used to having lots of convenience foods at their disposal there is likely to be some “there’s nothing to eat” complaints to deal with as you are transition to a healthier kitchen but once they are equipped with some fresh food skills they will be well on their way to a lifetime of healthy habits.
Build on what they like
Kids don’t typically respond well to change so go make changes gradually. A great place to start is to look at what they love to eat and add more nutritious ingredients to it. If your child loves pancakes, how about adding some flaxseed meal to the batter and topping them with antioxidant rich blueberries. If your kids enjoy pasta dishes add some extra vegetables into the sauce. If they eat cereal for breakfast try sprinkling over some chopped almonds and walnuts. This approach will help them to get used to new tastes and textures while eating food they enjoy.
Repeat, Repeat and repeat again
Children often grow to like foods so don’t stop putting broccoli on their plate because they don’t like it. Serve up a little bit of everything and encourage them to taste it. Try not to become attached to them liking certain foods, remain neutral explain why certain foods are good for them in a way they are interested in. It could be that it helps them to run faster, kick further, read better or sing louder. Be creative and make up stories based on their interests at the time, the fish on their plate that they are reluctant to try could as give them stronger muscles so they can twirl faster in their ballet class. The vegetables could strengthen the ‘little fighters’ inside their body so they can destroy the germs that give them a cough.
Your children happily eating what you put in front of them doesn’t have to be a distant dream but to broaden your child’s food horizons you need to make some changes to the food routines at home. Start slowly, working on one thing at a time and be patient. Good luck, it will pay off in the long run – I promise!
Jessica Donovan is a mama of 2, naturopath and holistic health expert who helps families thrive. She is passionate about educating parents on nourishing their children with real food, helping to boost their health and heal naturally. Jessica combines her deep naturopathic knowledge with a realistic, empathetic, inspiring and down to earth approach to empower women to look after themselves and take charge of the wellbeing of their families.
Jessica created an ebook – ‘5 food secrets of kids that rarely get sick’ to help parents boost their kids immune system with real food. You can download your free copy here.
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