We’ve teamed up with eumom to find out all about cajoling our kids to eat more. Today, we take about tips to deal with your fussy eater.
Nutritional scientist Anna Burns is the author of The Food Nanny: The 10 Food Rules to Prevent a Frighteningly Fat Future for Your Kids. Here she offers advice about how to get fussy eaters to eat their greens.
If you are a new parent and wondering what the bottom line of your nutritional goal for your beautiful new child should be, then let it be this: that by school-going age they consume at least the recommended ‘five-plus’ of fruit and vegetables every day.
This is what I would consider to be a minimum standard that we as parents need to set for our kids to help them achieve long-term health. I take my cue from the fact that those populations in the world that currently live the longest are those who consume the most fruit and vegetables, not processed foods. Remember, your kid’s nutrition is in your hands.
We assume that our kids are picky eaters, when we have, in fact, allowed them to become so. If they do not eat broccoli or sugar-snaps or green beans it is often because they are never given them. Children are designed to say ‘No’ up to a dozen times before they say ‘Yes’ to new foods. Our job is to get them to interact, often and in small doses, with a variety of different foods.
Of course your toddler will hurl a Brussels sprout, at speed, from his high-chair with disgust when first he sees it. But, offer the sprout once every now and then, along with other morsels of finger food and he will eventually come to tolerate it, not necessarily eating it yet. In time, he will try it and some day surprise you by eating it.
I can admit that it may be another few years before he asks for a second one! Does that matter? No. Not if he is also broadening his horizons trying other vegetables.
Keep colour in mind. Get your child to try all colours of fruit and vegetables, slowly but surely over time and you are doing your bit to getting him on track to a balanced approach to nutrition, for life. There is no such thing as a ‘bad’ food, nor as an all-encompassing ‘good’ food. Variety is your goal. Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Children learn by example. If you sit with your child, small as he may be at this stage, he will grow up seeing you eat your greens, and as a result never question this fact. If, however, you feed your child bland liquidised food for too long at a separate time to your meals he will grow to expect only bland food in a mushy format.
Have you ever noticed how your toddler or baby would love to try some of what is on your plate? Think about it. Lead by example. Eat your greens before you expect your child to eat theirs. Feed your child lots of bite-sized foods and keep meal-time fun. Don’t expect him to eat everything you present him with, just get him to try them over time. This is a ‘win-win’ situation!
With the best of intentions these days we often indulge our kids to the point of over-feeding them or ruining their chances of developing a palate beyond one that appreciates only sugar and salt. We spoil our child’s chances of appreciating the simple tastes of good quality foods by falling prey to such seemingly innocent treats as yoghurt-covered rice cakes or crackers, when they would, in fact, benefit more from an apple or a few strawberries at snack-time.
At eumom, we’re first for parenting, first for moms and we believe the best part of parenting is celebrating memorable moments together. From big announcements, to joyful arrivals, from first steps to first days of school, we are here for you.