We all want our kids to grow up strong and healthy and that means eating a variety of nutritious foods every day. Unfortunately, when you have a picky eater in the household, this is easier said than done. But there are ways to avoid waging a war over broccoli at the dinner table:
- Be a good role model ‐ Don’t expect your kids to eat spinach if you won’t eat it. Lead by example by eating your veggies and trying new things without a fuss.
- Avoid forcing or bribing – Kids will not respond well to being forced to eat a certain food or to finish everything on their plate. If you bribe them with something sweet, they’re more likely to see eating a particular food as a "chore", which isn’t going to set them up for a lifetime of good eating habits. Instead, keep presenting a variety of simple healthy meals and don’t protest if they won’t eat everything on their plate. Sometimes taking your attention away from the situation can undo fussy eating.
- Keep your cool – No matter how frustrated you might actually feel, stay calm. Sometimes kids are just looking to get a reaction from you.
- Eat together ‐ Concentrate on making mealtimes an enjoyable event, where everyone sits together at the dinner table and chats about their day. Avoid distractions like TV’s or tablets.
- Include your kids in the prep work – Let your kids help out with picking fresh produce at the grocery store or market, and with the preparation of meals in the kitchen. If they feel a sense of ownership over what you’re serving, they’re more likely to eat it.
- Serve smaller portions – Appreciate that your child’s stomach is small and they can always independently ask for more if they need it. Kids are very good at noticing when they’re hungry or full.
- Make it fun – Serve a variety of brightly coloured foods, have healthy finger foods available such as veggie dippers and their favourite sauce, cut foods into fun shapes and serve foods in different bowls that kids can pick and choose from.
- Be patient – Sometimes kids need regular exposure to a new food before they’ll come around to taking the first bite. Up to 10‐15 times in some cases.
- Stick to a routine – Serve meals and snacks at around the same time every day. Avoid giving them too many milk drinks or juice, which may be too filling and put them off their meals.
- Get a little sneaky – Sneak healthy elements into foods they already like. You could offer blueberry pancakes, carrot muffins and hidden veggie pasta sauce or sprinkle a multivitamin powder into their yoghurt.