Healthy Eating in 2016: Tips for Feeding Fussy Eaters
Date: 23 Feb 2016
Exercising and eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for children, but we know how difficult it can be to get your children to eat healthy foods. So, to help you out we’ve provided you with some tips on how you can encourage your little ones to eat their fruit and veg… without kicking up a fuss.
First of all, it is completely normal for children to go through a stage of being ‘picky’. New foods can be intimidating and they are learning what foods they do and do not like – try to be patient during this stage as the majority of children go through it.
Set an example
Children want to do what you do. They look up to you as parents and they learn from you so when it comes to eating healthily you might need to change your eating habits too! Try to eat at the table as much as possible - it’s a great way to spend some time together as a family but it’s also a good way for you to show your child what you’re eating.
Make a point of saying how delicious the healthy foods are “These carrots are yummy today aren’t they?” It’s important to be positive and enthusiastic about healthy food if you want your child to eat them too.
Don’t force them to eat
If your child is really hungry they will eat, if they’ve been staring at their plate for ages playing with the remaining food it’s likely that they’ve had enough – and that’s okay. Forcing your child to eat certain foods will only make them have negative associations with that food, meaning they won’t want to eat it again. Instead try to encourage them to have one mouthful of veg to see what they think first. If they want to eat more then great, if they don’t then don’t force it. It can take children up to ten times to try food before they are comfortable eating it.
Rewards and praise go a long wayDon’t just give your child attention when they aren’t eating, make a point of showing them attention when they eat well too. Praise them for trying new foods; you could even create a sticker chart and put a sticker on each day they eat all their vegetables at dinner. At the end of the week if they’ve got a sticker on each day they win a treat.
Make the food fun
Healthy food can often be associated with being boring, so make silly shapes, smiley faces and be creative with the food on your child’s plate. Meal times should be fun, not a chore.
Let them shop and cook
Children will be more inclined to eat food that they have chosen or prepared themselves. During your weekly food shop ask your child to choose some fruit and veg that they want to eat during the week. Then if it’s suitable for them to help prepare the food, allow them to do so. Even if it’s washing the tomatoes or breaking branches of broccoli off – they’ll love feeling like they’ve helped make dinner.
Have a fruit and veg buffet
This can be done with veg for dinner or lunch or with fruit for breakfast or dessert. Lay some bowls of fruit or veg out on the table and let your children get the ones they want to eat – have a good selection of options. It might take a little longer to cook and prepare but it’s a great way to introduce children to new foods.
If your children really aren’t keen on vegetables then hiding them is the only option! Add some broccoli or tomatoes to their macaroni cheese or add some peppers to spaghetti bolognaise. Soups are also great because they include lots of veg in one dish but when it’s all blended together your children will never know. You could also roast some carrots or green beans in the oven and call them ‘chips’ and add a sauce to dip them in too.
Remember that it’s not just fruit and veg that are good for you children. Fish and nuts are really good too. Try introducing your children to food such as salmon and tuna as early as possible; you might be surprised by how much they like it.
Don’t give up!
Children’s taste buds change, they might love carrots one day and hate them the next so just because they have outright refused to eat something one week it doesn’t mean you can’t try it the next. Keep introducing them to new foods, and even if they don’t like the food remember to praise them for trying it.
Do you have any tips on how to get fussy eaters to eat healthily? Let us know on social media.