Most parents find themselves dealing with resistance to certain foods at some point and it’s easy to get overly concerned that your child may be malnourished as a result. In reality, it’s likely that over the course of a typical week, your child is getting everything they need and that you simply need to wait for their taste buds to mature. In the meantime, the following tips may help speed things along.
Be a role model
If there are foods that you yourself do not like, do not try to serve them to your child. Unless they can be 100 percent certain that you have the courage of your convictions, they are likely to adopt your dislikes as your own. When it comes to food, you need to be the best role model you can.
The same goes for rules such as making sure you finish all the food on your plate before you reach for dessert. If you break this rule on a regular basis, there is no way you can expect your child not to.
Never force foods onto your child but never give up either. If a food item is rejected, try again a few weeks later. Serve up the item in different ways so that the texture is different each time as this may be a factor in why something was rejected.
Tastes are often acquired, and it may simply be that the fourth or fifth time your child tries something, they decide they like it after all. You can also try serving new foods alongside your child’s favorite food.
Use the power of disguise
Creating meals that have “hidden” vegetables, such as blended soups or stews, is a great way to ensure your children are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need while letting them think they are winning the battle against healthy eating. It’s often the case that dislike of a particular food is caused because there’s a lack of knowledge; perhaps they dislike broccoli because it’s green, and they don’t understand how nutritious it is for them. You should then either include broccoli in something else, or teach them about its healthy properties.
You can also find a number of helpful products on the market, such as mixed vegetables disguised as sausages, which can be a great help. You can also make smoothies and milkshakes with lots of fruit blended in to get more of this into a child’s diet. You may also be able to encourage your child to eat a wider range of foods through role play. Games involving a play cooking set, for example, can allow you to have an open discussion about the reasons why a particular food is disliked and reasons for consuming it. You can then use positive reinforcement to overcome any resistance.
Fights over food can cause issues in the kitchen but dealing with a picky eater can also cause you stress in other areas of your life. The time and energy it takes to prepare different meals for different family members can impact on your ability to do your job. The best solution is to identify a number of meals that are acceptable to all family members and rotate these on a regular basis.
As your children get older, you should also let them know that, if they don’t want to eat what is on the table in front of them, they always have the option to make something themselves – just so long as it is healthy.