Updated: Oct 17, 2018
When peas and broccoli are met with sulking and tantrums, it is important to know that you are not alone. Kids are notorious for their phases of liking and disliking food. Of course patience and perseverance are key, but what else can you try with your picky eaters in the meantime? As a nutritional therapist, and a mother of three now grownups, I know the difficulties faced by so many when it comes to mealtimes. More importantly however, I have a handful of helpful tips which I hope will be really beneficial for you and your fussy eaters.
1. Get the Fussy Eaters Involved with Cooking
Messy fingers are always fun. Getting your children interested and involved with food preparation and cooking enables them to have a positive association with their food and are much more likely to eat it. Not only that, the preparation process can help to encourage your child’s appetite, ready for mealtime.
As a nutritional therapist, I am acutely aware of the devastating effects a diet which is high in sugars and fats is having on the health of children across the UK and beyond. Often when we think of our kids in the kitchen, it is to do some baking – but it certainly isn’t limited to sugar-heavy treats. Click here to find a great selection of delicious healthy snacks that you and your children can get stuck into.
2. Make Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food
At home, at friend’s houses, as a treat, kids are drawn to the taste and attraction of junk food. I say that a “Happy Meal” isn’t the only way to have a happy meal. There are lots of really easy recipes out there on the World Wide Web which do healthy alternatives to traditional junk food. Think healthy fish and chips, lean mince burgers, cauliflower pizza and fresh fruit ice lollies for dessert.
3. Make Food Fun for Fussy Eaters
Make a game of eating! I am certainly not suggesting a game of catch across the table but you could consider making a food chart. Drawing, writing or filling in the colour of the fruit or vegetables they have eaten that day, with small rewards when a row is complete, can be a wonderful method to help push fussy eaters into trying new food.
We’ve already spoken about fruit ice lollies, but there are plenty more ways to get your children on board with eating fruit. Try build-your-own fruit sticks by cutting up a selection of fruit and allowing your children to pick a selection of fruits. You could also make a juice or smoothie of the week and create fun names each time.
4. Hide the Veggies from Your Picky Eaters
This certainly is not a new trick to get those essential nutrients and vitamins into a fussy eater’s diet – but it is one of the best. If your children already have a negative association with particular food, they are more than likely going to look out for it. By blending vegetables into delicious family favourites, you can relax at mealtimes knowing that the good stuff is being eaten by your children without fear of sulking and hungry tummies.
5. Stay Positive and Eat Together
Staying positive is easier said than done, but if you can manage to remain relaxed – or at least appear it – the results are proven to be far better than if we give in to our frustrations. Sharing food and showing your children your enjoyment whilst eating it is really encouraging.
Recent studies have shown that children, toddlers in particular might reject food up to 20 times before agreeing to eat it. It may feel hopeless at points, but by reintroducing vegetables to your children each day will allow them to become familiar with them rather than fearful.
There are many more ways top tips to get your fussy eaters excited about healthy foods. I have had the pleasure of helping many clients put together meal plans which not only support healthy living, but also encourage those fussy eaters to try new foods. If you would like any advice or would like to learn more about my nutritional therapy programmes, get in touch today.