Every parent has experienced at one time or other the refusal from their child to eat. It is inevitable that sometimes kids will be presented with a meal that they don’t want to touch, just consider yourselves lucky if that is only once in a while. For others, meal times can be stressful and cause anxiety for both parties as a result of trying to please a fussy eater. I have been one of the lucky ones and my kids generally eat well, but I know that a lot of what I do helps them to just get on with it. Here are 3 simple tips:
Fun names – last night I came up with yet another fun name for 3 kinds of leftovers on mash potato… When they asked me what was for dinner and I answered ‘Mish Mashy on Mash’ to which they were all delighted. They didn’t know that it was leftover savoury mince + leftover sausages + leftover vegetables with (also leftover) salsa and cream on mash potato. They didn’t care. It sounded cool. Broccoli in our house is called ‘mini trees’ and all peas are ‘babies’. Each kind of food has a story to tell, and can easily spark interest. For example ‘Do you know how carrots are grown? Carrots like to hide in the ground until they are ready, and did you know that they used to be purple? Knowledge is power.
Presentation presentation presentation – let’s not forget that our kids are just that – kids. They, like any other human being like looking at things that are pleasing to the eye, and so when presented with a lump of gloop, are potentially less inclined to get stuck in. If, however, they are presented with a small bowl of gloop and some fun toast or cut veggies to stick into it, you may have more success. Rather than just dumping everything on the plate and hoping for the best, try arranging shapes and/or colours to make a little bit of fun. It may seem silly, but if the result is good then it is surely worth it. If it looks good (to them) then there’s one less hurdle at dinner. Maybe that’s why my kids don’t like scrambled eggs very much – just looks like yellow lumpy stuff. If you need inspiration all you need to do is take a quick look at pinterest.
Giving choices – some kids are tough to please and only like a small variety of food. Guess what? That’s ok! I know adults like that too! Don’t give up trying to introduce new things but don’t let panic affect meal times because the more stress associated with meals the higher the chance they will carry eating issues onto adult life. One brilliant way to encourage the fussy eaters is to allow them to choose what to eat. If able, you could offer them a choice at dinner time – do you want tuna or sausages? Also bring them shopping with you, ask them to help choose the produce. Look at magazines and ask them what they like the look of. Bring them into the kitchen fun and with any luck it will encourage a love for food.
Talking to your kids about food sources, choices, portions and flavours will help them to understand where food comes from and why it’s important. However, giving too much or undesirable information can lead to disaster – getting my kids to eat kidney’s was NOT as a result of telling them about an animal’s digestive system and showing them graphic images, I just airily told them it was ‘part of the animal’ and they should give it a try cause it’s yummy. Filter your food conversation.
If you’ve tried all of these and still need more help, perhaps it’s time to go and see a health professional to make sure there aren’t any issues. Or for more helpful tips check out what Mummy Weekly has to say…
Emma Eastman 2015