Health is an issue at the forefront of everyone’s mind at the moment, and if you’re dealing with a child who just won’t eat their vegetables, it can be a bit of worry.
If your child is a picky eater, the important thing is not to panic. You can make some small changes that over time will start to change your child’s eating habits and help them to get more of the vitamins and minerals that they need.
Don’t force or coerce your child to eat
If your child just isn’t hungry, then don’t be tempted to force or coerce them to eat. And bribery or coercion around mealtime will only ingrain the idea that there is a power struggle around food, which is not something that promotes healthy eating. It can also fuel anxiety around mealtime.
If your child isn’t a big eater, then try serving small portions so that they aren’t overwhelmed, and then give them the opportunity to ask for more food as and when they want it. It can also be helpful to stick to a food routine, always having meals and snacks at the same time.
Introducing new foods
When introducing new foods to your child, it’s important to remember that it can take 12-15 new exposures before a type of food is accepted. Offer small amounts of new food so as not to overwhelm your child.
Don’t be tempted to ‘reward’ good eating with dessert, as this promotes the message that dessert is a better type of food. Instead, praise your child when they eat well, but don’t put any pressure on them. In particular, the idea of ‘clearing your plate’ actually goes against natural hunger cues and isn’t a healthy message.
If your child is really picky and you are concerned that they aren’t getting all of the nutrition they need, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor in the first instance. Then, seek out the children’s gummy vitamins that are available. These can help provide them with all the vitamins and minerals they need. It can even help support them as they grow and develop.
Set a good example
This is one of the most powerful things you can do to promote a healthy diet. If you are eating a varied and well-balanced diet, your child will see you doing this, and they will want to do the same.
Involve your child in food prep
If you involve your child in shopping for food and in food preparation then this will help them to feel more involved and excited about what they are eating.
If they are too young to actually help with food prep, you can still show them what you are doing and let them learn about the different textures and flavors of the food.
Make mealtimes about food
Having the television on at mealtime can distract your child from their food. Not only this, but television will often show a lot of commercials for fatty and sugary foods, which won’t help you in your quest to get your child to eat healthy and nutritious food!