8 hacks that will change mealtimes for picky little eaters
When I was growing up, I just wouldn’t eat vegetables. Refused to.
From the age of five, I found myself removing them off my plate. As I grew older and my palate changed, I started enjoying them. I can only imagine how incredibly frustrating it was for my parents.
With this year being one fraught with anxiety, parents and caregivers don’t need another reason to stress.
Dealing with picky eaters can be a major source of concern for caregivers who want to ensure that the kids in their care are getting enough healthy food and hydration to grow and thrive.
To help you on your journey with your little one, dietitian, Mbali Mapholi, has partnered with Laager Tea4Kidz to bring you eight clever hacks for fussy eaters.
Laager Rooibos Marketing Manager, Candice Sessions says that the link between a healthy diet and a healthy body and mind is widely known, and it is really important that this positive connection with food starts early. However, many parents and caregivers struggle to just get their kids to eat in the first place.
Mapholi also explains that there are many reasons for children becoming fussy eaters, but there are practical ways to address this. She says it’s important to make the eating process one that is enjoyable, and communal, rather than a time of stress. And below are a few ways to avoid common mistakes that lead to anxiety at meal-times, and create a happy, healthy environment.
- Instead of having your child eat alone, make it a family mealtime where everyone is eating together.
- Rather than eating and drinking during the meal, encourage your child to drink healthy beverages between meals. That way, they’re not full when it comes to the meal.
- Instead of introducing a completely new meal, bring in the new food with familiar food types as a way to ease them in.
- Don’t use methods of trickery to get children to eat, rather encourage them throughout the meal and celebrate the last bite.
- Avoid mindless grazing or snacking throughout the day. Organise a routine for healthy snacks and mealtimes to get the mind and body ready for meals.
- Never force a child to eat if they are full. Their bodies do require much smaller portions, often throughout the day, rather than one big meal.
- Dish up smaller portions of food, especially when introducing new foods.
- Encourage your child to assist you in the kitchen. The process of preparing the meal will make them feel involved, and more likely to eat the meal at the end.
According to the Daily Mail, kids who are fussy eaters could grow up healthier.
They reported that researchers at Bristol University tracked thousands of children considered fussy eaters by the age of three whose eating habits, weight, and height were regularly monitored until their late teens.
Although some experienced periods of below-average size, by the time they reached 17, nearly all were above average for height, weight, and body mass index.
They also reported that one child in five is classed as a fussy eater, refusing to try unfamiliar – often healthy – foods such as green vegetables and demanding that parents feed them only favourite treats, and most grow out of it but in around 40 percent of cases it goes on for two years or more, causing parents anxiety over their child's wellbeing.