If you have a little one in your household that’s a fussy eater, you’re certainly not alone. Refusing to eat or turning up their noses at new foods is simply part of being a kid, which can be difficult when you want to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy. Below are some ideas from our Cenovis Mums to assist with this all‐too‐common meal time challenge:
- Lead by example – Actions speak louder than words so if parents and older siblings are eating healthy meals without a fuss, picky kids are more likely to eat, or at least try the foods as well.
- Make mealtimes fun – This isn’t always easy for a busy evening meal, but if possible try creating shapes or boats out of veggies, serve veggie dippers with a favourite dip and let kids assemble their own food or plates when possible (tacos are great for this!). Link to Taco recipe.
- Avoid adding extra pressure – Forcing your child to eat a certain food can often make them resist and detest it even more. Many of us will be familiar with being forced to eat Brussels sprouts and disliking them from that moment on. If your child refuses to eat something, just take it away without a fuss and stay calm, as frustrated as you might feel. You can always try again later.
- Use the "No thank you" bite – This strategy seems to works for some parents to expand a fussy eater’s palate. Kids are encouraged, but not forced, to try everything on their plate by taking one bite of each item. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to finish it, but praise them for trying.
- Let them help plan meals – Get out the cookbooks and involve your kids in the meal planning process. At the grocery store or market, let your child help you pick out fruit and veggies and other healthy foods.
- Get fussy eaters involved in the kitchen – They’ll be more likely to eat something that they were involved in preparing.
- Try repeat exposure – Young kids tend to like foods that they’re familiar with, so they may need to be exposed to a food many times before they’ll come around to actually liking it.
- Sneak veggies into food – If you’re worried about their intake of important vitamins and minerals, you can sneak extra veggies into pasta sauce, smoothies and even cupcakes.
- Ensure meals are child‐sized – Smaller meals may seem less overwhelming and they can always ask for more if they’re truly hungry afterwards.
- Reduce distractions – Turn the TV off and put toys away, or are at least not being played with at the table. By sitting together and chatting as a family at mealtime, eating can still be fun and about family time instead of just ensuring everyone finishes their food.