You’ve spent ages preparing a healthy dinner for your family and when you put it down in front of them it may as well have been a plate of squiggly worms for all the interest your little one shows.
Feeding children a healthy diet can be an uphill struggle as food fads come and go but by making some simple changes you can make sure they eat a healthy diet.
Firstly let me say that it’s perfectly normal for children to be wary of unfamiliar foods. Secondly the good news is that most food fads will disappear as they reach their teens – but there are a lot of meals to prepare before then.
Forcing children to eat the foods they don’t like is not a good idea and ensuring that they clean their plates may lead to overeating.
Ask them what they really like to eat, get them to make a list of their favourite foods and try to get them to include some healthy options too. Letting them help prepare foods may well encourage them to try them out.
Make sure you have lots of healthy snack foods around, pieces of fruit or carrot sticks are better for them than crisps or biscuits. Avoid giving any snacks before meal times as this may also put them off eating.
Ensure that your little one is hungry before sitting him/her down to their meal as they are more likely to eat it.
Try to eat together as a family, sitting at a table with the TV turned off, seeing Mum and Dad enjoying their veggies will encourage them to try them too.
Introduce new foods to your children one at a time giving them time to get used to these new tastes and textures before learning another one.
Don’t encourage fads by making them special meals, encourage them to eat the same as the rest of the family.
When meal time for the family is over and your little one’s eaten some but not all of their meal, remove their plate along with the others and try giving a smaller portion next time.
Smoothies are a great way to introduce fruit into a fussy eater’s diet and it’s easy to make your own, all you’ll need is the fruit/veg and a blender/smoothie maker.
Create a smoothie filled with different fruits and make up a name for it that could include their favourite TV/toy character e.g. Mike the Knight Drinks It Right Smoothie, Oinkalicious Peppa Smoothie, Monster Juice – make it even more fun by getting them to make up their own favourite names.
Encourage your children to get involved by choosing their own ingredients and preparing it along with you. By giving your children a smoothie you know you’ve given them a great fruit/veg boost to their diet.
If, after trying all of these ideas, you still find that your child will not, under and circumstances, eat fruit and vegetables you could try:
- Blending homemade vegetable soup (always a big favourite in my house)
- Mashing vegetables with potatoes
- Making your own sauce for pasta (e.g. tomato and vegetables blended together)
- Very finely chop vegetables and sprinkled into pasta/bolognese sauce.
Don’t despair, the good news is that children usually grow out of fussy eating.
Let us know how you encouraged your fussy eater to eat healthily.