A common theme I often see on our private groups is around children being fussy eaters and how to manage this when following a healthy eating plan such as our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.
This is something I can talk from experience on as my 4 year old is enormously fussy – my 2 year old is MUCH easier and eats pretty much anything thankfully!
My 4 year old has been like this since birth. Even from starting solids he would gag at most foods and has been notoriously fussy with what he will and won’t eat.
I have tried every trick in the book to encourage him to try new foods but the words stubborn and often mule spring to mind…..
So how do I manage?
He likes quite plain foods and would live on bread and pasta if he could. So the challenge is to get him to eat all food groups and to try new things.
The biggest success I have had is to get both kids cooking with me. I can honestly say that this works.
It doesn’t work overnight, but it gets them interested more in food and proud of what they make.
My 4 year old is always so proud of what he makes – he sees himself as the family cook.
He loves the mixing and the stirring – and one of the meals he loves is spag bol. We make all kinds of variations of this adding in all kinds of veggie sauce blends that we make in the blender.
When we make a meal like this I tell him about all the ingredients going in and what they are going to do for his body – we talk about how the super charged carrot is going to super charge his eye sight and give his body energy to run around. He then starts to get much more interested in the food.
I nearly fell off my chair the other day when we were chopping and making dinner and he picked up some celery and said “mmmm I have decided I like celery now and you can add it to my lunch box” – this was the first time he had tried celery and I couldn’t believe it. There was a bit of heaving going on but he still ate it!
I find a lot of meals in the 28 Day Challenge meals really versatile. With foods like rice, pasta, meat and fish, I use the unseasoned version for my boys and then season them up for me and my hubby.
And the great thing is that there are sooooo many to choose from (currently over 800 and as of next month there will be 1,000)
I also find that the 28 Day Challenge meals are just soooo good for getting them involved and I see this feedback on the Facebook Group from other mums too.
My fussy one LOVES to look at the weekly menu and tell me what to customise! He learns about new foods and it has really got him trying new foods.
I have also done some of my top tips (below) for getting fussy eaters eating more too – and it is still a work in progress with mine but I hope that one day he will surprise me and eat broccoli 🙂
1. Keep trying it
A child can take up to 10 tastes of a food before they decide if they like it or not.
So if you’ve offered carrots on Monday with no luck, try again on Thursday and see how you go.
Pop them on their plate and just see what happens. If they’re still getting rejected, try again the next week. Persistence is key.
Some kids are encouraged to try new things by seeing others do the same. So have the whole family try the particular food and make a fuss of how much they like it.
If you need to, encourage someone they admire (a good friend or relative) to mention how much they love the food and see if that helps.
2. Cook it a new way
For some kids it’s the way the food feels in their hands or mouth that they don’t like.
So if your child won’t eat carrot sticks, why not try offering them roasted carrots, or even carrot puree with cumin added?
A new experience with a food means that you might just win the battle and find a way to get the vegetables in without a fight. Here are some more ideas to try:
- Pumpkin – try roasted wedges, pumpkin mash, or soup. You can also try mixing it with a favourite such as potato when you make mash.
- Broccoli – try steaming it rather than boiling as it keeps its fresh green colour and flavour. Chop it up small and add it to a risotto or Bolognese. You can also puree steamed broccoli with a little natural yoghurt or cottage cheese to make a healthy dip.
- Beetroot – try raw sliced, roasted, or even as a dip. Try our simple Beetroot and Butter Bean Dip from our Healthy Kids Recipe Book. Drain and rinse a 400g tin of baby beetroots as well as a 400g tin of butter beans. Pop in the blender and puree until smooth.
- Cauliflower – try making faux rice by grating a cauliflower and then covering with plastic wrap and cooking in the microwave for 6-7 minutes. You can also try steaming it, making cauliflower cheese, or even roast it in chunks in the oven with your roast chicken.
3. Make it a fun experience
Why not have a little fun with the food and see if that will tempt the little people to try something new?
- Have a picnic in the garden and put all the food on a platter to share
- Place the food in little kid friendly containers to eat at the beach or park
- Try eating with ladles instead of spoons; tongs instead of forks; or straws instead of hands – have a laugh and see if the relaxed environment will encourage a taste test of something new.
Check out our Healthy Kids Recipe Book (written by one of our top nutritionists who specialises in kids nutrition) for more FUN ideas such as:
- Fruit dipping station
- Healthy fairy bread
- Zucchini and carrot chequers
- Sweet and savoury homemade popcorn
- Frozen banana pops
And good luck!