Guest blog by Sam Hadadi
We’re sure that parents from around world will be nodding in frantic agreement when we say that getting your kids to eat well is about as easy as walking on water.
In fact, encouraging fussy eaters to eat anything at all can often be tricky. So when you want your little ones to eat healthily, do you just give in? Do you admit defeat in Mission: Impossible, or can it be done?
Unfortunately, it’s in a child’s nature to be picky and fiercely independent – and it could even be down to evolution, as a way of protecting ourselves from unknown, and potentially dangerous foods.
However, try not to fret: Lucy Bee is here to the rescue. If the aeroplane trick or piles of “hidden vegetables” are failing, then we have plenty of fresh ideas and recipes for you to try.
In this new series of blog posts, we’ll be bringing you our top tips on getting fussy eaters eating. This month, we’ll be dishing out our favourite advice, as well as sharing some healthy snack ideas which will have even the most distrusting of toddlers coming back for more…
Keeping your cool when your kid tosses an entire plate of food (food you’ve slaved over for hours on end!) on the floor can be tricky. However, it’s important that you don’t show frustration when little ones are eating. Here are our top tips on dealing with fussy eaters – and encouraging them to get healthy:
1) Don’t Show Anger
Parents will well know that even a tried-and-tested favourite food can be shooed away when kids are in a fussy, or stubborn phase. Yet, however stressful or upsetting it is, try not to panic or show anger when your child rejects your food – pressuring them may well backfire and cause them to associate mealtimes with stress and anger. Instead, keep calm and let them be.
2) Try to Eat Together
While hectic schedules and manic working days may make this impossible, try to eat a sit-down family meal wherever possible. Toddlers learn how to eat by copying their parents, and we all know that food tastes even more delicious when taken from someone else’s plate – you may be surprised at what they’re willing to try!
3) Introduce New Foods Slowly
Toddlers like familiarity and routine, so it stands to reason that new foods won’t always go down too well (it can take around 10 times before they realise they like it). If you’re trying out a new food, then start slowly, and offer them a bite at a time before you dish up a whole serving.
4) Give Them Small Portions
Kids can feel overwhelmed by huge plates of food. Instead of dishing up face-sized plates, try to offer them smaller portions, which may seem a little bit more manageable. If they finish this small portion, then give them plenty of praise and offer them some more.
5) Get Them Involved
While we don’t quite recommend letting your little one loose with your purse around Sainsbury’s, try to involve slightly older children in food shopping. Encourage them to pick out foods they want to try, or which they find appealing.
You could also get them to help you cook or lay the table before dinner. Getting them to handle new foods without being under pressure to eat them could break down lots of barriers, while treating them like an adult can work wonders too.
6) Keep Juices to a Minimum
Fruit juices and fizzy drinks should be avoided wherever possible - not only will they rot the teeth and encourage a sweet tooth, but they’ll also fill a child up. Similarly, don’t offer bottles of milk before mealtimes. Instead, try to get your child to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated healthily. If that’s not possible, offer them sugar-free squash instead.
7) Reward Good Eating
We all know that small children love reward and star charts, so why not introduce them at mealtimes too? You could give a child a sticker for something as simple as trying a new food, or eating their plate clean (although don’t reward behaviour with an unhealthy food!).
8) It’s All in the Timing
We all remember how ravenous swimming lessons left us when we were younger, so why not take advantage of this with your own children? When your child comes home from school or nursery feeling incredibly hungry, it’s the perfect time to offer them something healthy and nutritious. Try offering them carrot sticks and hummus, or other wholesome goods, when they’ll want it the most.
9) Works of Art
Eating food that’s appealing to the eye is important to us adults too (would you really eat a pile of slop if it was served to you in a restaurant?), so why do we forget to do this for kids?
Try making meals and food look attractive and fun or, if you’re feeling extra creative, turn it into mini works of art. Children also like to assemble their own food, so try laying out a variety of ingredients for them to experiment with – this works brilliantly with wraps at lunchtime.
Although toddler tantrums may cause you to question yourself at times, ditch the sweets and the chocolate and make your little one go healthy.
We love to give our youngsters healthy, nourishing snacks such as rice cakes with homemade nut butters (only if they’re not allergic, of course!), and we also offer carrot sticks with our favourite hummus, fresh fruit skewers, chunks of cheese for those growing bones, homemade vegetable or fruit crisps and freshly-baked goods.
If all else fails, you can rest assured that Lucy Bee has plenty of delicious snack ideas that will have even the fussiest of children begging for more!
Here are some of our favourite healthy snacks to get those fussy eaters to the table…
1) Banana Ice Cream
This is a tried and tested recipe on the toddlers in our Lucy Bee family – not one of them has ever refused this, even the particularly fussy ones!
2 bananas, chopped and frozen
1.5 tbsp. nut butter
1) Blend together the frozen bananas and peanut butter in a food processor until smooth. Serve immediately for soft-scoop ice cream.
Want some more ideas? Here are some other firm favourites:
6) Chunky Oaty and Blueberry Cookies
About Lucy Bee Limited
Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.
The views and opinions expressed in videos and articles on the Lucy Bee website/s or social networking sites are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those of Lucy Bee Limited.
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Sam Hadadi is an ex-BBC journalist and now a freelance writer specialising in fitness and food.