Michelle Bridges shares her tips to help motivate your fussy little eaters to develop healthier habits.
We all know that mealtimes are a great opportunity for families to spend quality time together, but the reality is sometimes things don’t always go as planned. Some days plates empty in a jiffy with happy faces all ‘round, and other times you have a tantrum throwing kid with a growling tum. Feeding fussy eaters while still providing a healthy, nutritious and balanced meal for our
families can be done – here’s how!
Tip 1. Remain calm
Stubborn children can send your frustration levels through the roof but remaining cool, calm and collected will not only make this experience easier on yourself, it will also demonstrate to your child that digging their heels in does not automatically lead to them getting their own way. Mealtimes are a great way to regularly reinforce what is acceptable in terms of behaviour and what consequences come as a result.
Tip 2. Play hide and seek with your vegetables
Become a vegetable ninja and hide veggies in every dish! Lasagne with layers of sweet potato, zucchini pasta, spaghetti
sauce that’s been boosted with blended veggies, meatloaf that’s been mixed up with multiple veg. Once the dinner’s done and in everyone’s tummy, get the kids to guess what veggies were hiding in the dinner. Getting conversation going about veggies gets kids interested and engaged with the wide range that they can get to sample. And that gets them more likely to enjoy them!
Tip 3. Creativity is key
You don’t have to become Picasso for this, but plating the food in an interesting design will excite kids. Creating a fun scene or face on a plate with a variety of food stops the automated ‘I don’t like it’ response. Or give your kids a blank plate with their veggies in separate bowls and have them ‘paint’ a picture themselves, using the veggies.
Tip 4. Let them join in
Get your kids involved by involving them in meal planning for the week ahead, and have them help shop for the ingredients too, where possible. When it comes to preparing the meal, give them a few simple tasks to complete. For example counting out the sausages for each person, washing the vegetables, deseeding the capsicum, tearing the lettuce leaves for the salad bowl, mixing the salad dressing (just make sure the container you use has a tightly sealed lid!). Let them help you plate the meals; they could be in charge of serving up the salad, or even just setting the table and making sure everyone has a glass of water. Giving the littlies a sense of responsibility and ownership as they take part in the choosing, cooking and serving process, means they’re much more likely to want to try the end result!
Teach your children about the food they consume and why it’s good for them. Praise and encourage your kids when they choose healthy dinner options, as they name and know their veggies, as they eat across the range of what’s been served up to (and by) them.
Focusing on the positives and what kids are doing well is a great way to create overall positivity and enjoyment of healthy food, and reduce fussy eating finnicky’ness!