Picky eaters - patience pays!
The daily frustrations of trying to convince your child to eat healthy, nutritious foods may be a daunting task, especially when your efforts end up lining the floor and tabletop instead of your child’s stomach! Picky eating, mostly found in toddlers, is more common than you may think. Some children are merely trying to express their independence where others only need a little more encouragement, as part of their emotional and physical development. Here are a few practical guidelines that you, as a parent or caregiver, can initiate to put your child on the path to better nutrition:
If you are trying to introduce a new, specific food item, it is always beneficial to combine that item with another that you know your child already likes (e.g. cauliflower with cheese sauce or pumpkin with cinnamon and a pinch of brown sugar). If you find that your child is repeatedly refusing something, try to hide it in meals, such as chopped carrots/pureed pumpkin with bolognaise or beans mashed with potatoes. Food items can also be ground or pureed to change the texture - serving the food like this may be more acceptable to your child and he/she can get used to the taste of it in this way.
At the end of the day, it is important to respect and not force your child to do anything. Avoid the use of bribery with other food items like sweets or chocolates (offer a trip to the beach or the park instead) and remember that you should act as a positive role model so that healthy habits are inculcated in your child, which is a determinant for their future food choices. Finally, as you implement these ideas, patience is a virtue – repeated exposure to foods on a number of occasions may be necessary. It is typical for a picky eater to only resume normal eating habits as he/she sees fit but hang in there – your cooking skills will eventually be enjoyed and your efforts will pay off.
Try some of the following fun ideas:
Written by Lauren Pietersen, Registered Dietician at the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA.
For more heart smart information, phone the Heart Mark Diet Line at 0860 223 222 where you will be consulted by one of the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA’s Registered Dietitians or visit www.heartfoundation.co.za for more nutritional advice.