Dealing With The Fussy Eater by Keren Slutzkin
I am sure majority of you have had an encounter with the ‘Fusser Eater’, which has left you feeling frustrated, upset and stressed. You take the time to prepare a delicious and nutritious meal, yet they reject it without even trying it! Each mealtime becomes stressful and less enjoyable for you and your children.
With our time being so precious and valuable, you start to offer them less nutritious options such as sugar laden cereal for breakfast, packaged foods for lunch and then fast food take away options for dinner because you know that it will get eaten. However, the food that we give our children can have a significant impact on their mood, energy and even ability to concentrate. Our children’s lives are so busy with their full days of school, extra-curricular activities after school and then social events and sporting games on the weekend, we need to fuel them correctly to be able to handle it all.
Tips on how to overcome the challenge of a ‘Fussy Eater’
1. Model behaviour – Encourage healthy eating in your children by eating this way yourself. Children tend to mimic what we do and where possible, share your meal.
2. Be sneaky – If your children do not eat a range of vegetables, pureeing soups or adding grated veggies to dishes such as Bolognese sauce, meatballs, burgers or casseroles are a great way to incorporate more vegetables into their meals. Smoothies are also a good way to incorporate different fruits and vegetables. Make a smoothie that turns out to be the colour that your child loves.
3. Make the food look attractive, make the plate colourful and cut the food into different shapes and sizes.
4. Avoid unhealthy foods – it’s very tempting to offer your child food treats just so she ‘eats something’. But if you offer fatty, sugary or salty snacks as substitutes, your child might start refusing healthier foods – after all, they’ll know there are tastier options!
5. Give your child some independence with their food – Get your child involved in preparing meals. They will feel proud and more inclined to try something that they have made. You can also try letting your child make choices within a range of healthier food options.
6. Ignore unwanted behaviour – If a child refuses to eat and receives attention for it, the end result is that they will continue to use the unwanted behaviour to get more attention. So, in these instances sometimes the best thing you can do is to ignore it.
7. Set regular meal times – On average a child needs to eat every 2.5-3 hours. If they don’t eat at a particular meal time, take the plate away and make them wait until the next meal or snack time rather then allowing them to continue coming back and grazing off the plate.
8. Don’t give up – Fussy eaters can wear you down, but on average it takes 10 times for a child to try a particular food and get positive reinforcement.
So if you are dealing with a fussy eater, I hope you will find it comforting to know that you are not the only one that is experiencing these battles and keep in mind that it’s just a stage and IT WILL PASS!
Keren Slutzkin is a holistic health and wellness coach who is the founder of Vital Assurance. Keren is a passionate foodie and is all about inspiring mums and their families to live a healthy and happy life.