Fussy Eating 101
Fussy Eating 101
Food plays such a pivotal role in our lives and picky eating is stressful, frustrating and can really take an emotional toll on parents. Are they eating enough? Is there enough variety in their diet? Will they ever expand their palette? Have I done something wrong?
Every parent I’ve spoken to, including myself, has has to deal with picky eating. You’re not alone!
Here are the strategies that have worked for me when it comes to fussy eating. This list is by no means exhaustive, so please do share any tips you may have in the comments below!
1. Take the emotion out
This is actually what I have always found the hardest but realised the less stress there is at meal times, the easier it is.
Making mealtimes relaxed (for example by chatting or reading at the table) will remove pressure and stress out of the equation thereby helping your little ones to relax and it creates a calmer atmosphere for the whole family.
It’s so easy to just serve the same meals on rotation without introducing new flavours/textures. One way around this is to serve foods they like but with different flavour profiles, for example, pasta with pesto as opposed to always with tomato sauce.
Adding new veggies as a side dish is also a great way to add variety to a meal.
3. Exposure in different ways
Keep offering a food they don’t like in different ways. My son won’t touch cauliflower if it’s steamed or roasted but will devour cauliflower fritters. The texture, taste and flavours can plays such a big role.
4. Get them involved!
I passionately believe in kids in the kitchen. Getting your little ones involved in the cooking process provides them with opportunity to learn to appreciate food and exposes them to a variety of food. By helping to prepare it they are able to learn about food, more likely to try new foods. I learnt this through experience. Every cooking opportunity is a learning experience, we talk about the food, where it comes from and why our bodies need it – this all sounds very serious but we have had so many laughs doing this!
I have found having a good routine of 3 meals and 2 snacks allows my son to build up hunger between meals and snacks. This is important as if little ones are constantly grazing they are never truly hungry and therefore more likely to reject foods.
Helping children to connect that what they eat helps them to feel strong, healthy and to grow is a great tool to educate and encourage them.
7. Don’t hide food they don’t like!
Hiding food they don’t like breaks trust and encourages even more picky eating! Being open about what you’re serving allows for exposure in a positive way.
You don’t need to list out the ingredients for everything you make but don’t lie about it either!
Lead by example!!! Eat with you little ones and show them that you also enjoy the same foods you are serving them!
9. Offer Options
Sometimes letting your child choose a meal can really help them to try new foods. For example, asking them to choose whether to have cucumber or broccoli with dinner can go a long way to making a child feel empowered and in control. Limited choices promote making better choices!
10. Let them decide if they want to try new foods
I know this can be hard and at times I’ve felt like saying “just try one bite”, however this adds pressure and makes them far more unlikely to try. Rather, give them assurance and say “you don’t have to eat it”. This allows for exposure without pressure and they might just surprise you!
I hope you find some of these tips useful and help you on your journey with your fussy eater! You’re doing an amazing job!
Check out my eBook which has lots of easy recipes bursting with flavour and nutritious ingredients.