The Fussy Eater
by Sinead Belton | 6th Oct 2022
As a child, food can be a big obstacle and mealtimes can become slightly overwhelming. If they decide they don’t want something it can be a big challenge to convince them otherwise. This is a very common phase that many children will go through, but nevertheless it is a worrying time for parents. Here are some tips and tricks that may help during this phase!
What can you do as a parent?
When your child won’t eat or refuses to try new foods it can be quite disheartening at times.
- Patience plays a huge role in encouraging your child to try more foods. Keep trying as it can take up to 10 times before they will try something.
- Try to eat the same food at the same time as your child to encourage them to eat.
- Try a sticker chart - give your child a sticker every time the try a new food or finish their meal. Even add your name up on the chart or get the whole family involved. You can always add rewards when they try a certain amount of new foods - but make it attainable, you don't want to discourage them!
- Serve small portions - small amounts of food work best for kids and remember to praise them when they eat something, no matter how small!
Ensuring they are getting the right nutrients
As adults we know what food we like and what we don’t like, but for kids everything is new at the beginning and it may take a few tries before your child decides they like something. Focus on ensuring that they are eating food from the important food groups first. If this is not an option, look for alternative ways to give them this food.
The food pyramid is a great tool for parents as it details what food groups are most important and the serving size of each food that your child needs.
Try not to get too bogged down by your child's daily meals and look at it week by week. If Monday is a bad day for eating try again on Tuesday.
Is your child avoiding meat?
Meat can be tricky for children to eat, it may be dry, tough or just not appetising for their taste buds. As protein is a very important nutrient for children for their growth and development, think about alternative sources of protein. Eggs, lentils and beans are all high in protein and are easy foods for children to eat. Remember you can always reintroduce meat again at a late stage!
- Serve hard boiled eggs with a slice of wholemeal toast.
- Why not make a stew or a casserole with lentils and pulses instead of meat.
- If the meat is too dry, try to add a sauce or gravy to make it easier for your child to eat.
If your child is struggling to eat their veg, add them into dishes they already enjoy. Why not try adding carrots, spinach and celery into a Bolognese sauce. If your child doesn’t like cooked vegetables, why not chop up some veg, such as carrots, into sticks and leave them aside when you are preparing the vegetables for the dinner.
-Make it fun! Why not plate up veggies in coloured bowls or cut them into different shapes where possible.
-If your kids don't like boiled vegetables, oven-frying is a great alternative leaving you with tasty, crunchy veg!
-Serve veg with a dip - kids love to dip their food! Hummus and carrot sticks works great for this.
-Mash up food. If your child enjoys mashed potato why not add in some parsnip or carrot to the mash to get some extra veggies in.
If you are really struggling to get them to eat vegetables, children tend to prefer fruit so give them an extra piece of fruit instead.
What to avoid
- Filling children up with drinks before meals. Try to stick to water or milk at mealtimes.
- Getting stressed - try to remain as calm and positive as you can and hide your frustrations.
- Bribing, it can be easy to try to persuade a child to eat their dinner for something nice afterwards but in the long run this is not the solution.
- Distractions - remove all distractions from your children such as iPads, TV and toys.
Have you tried our Mini Meals?
Eating the same meals as your child can really help guide them out of their fussy eating phase. Here at GourmetFuel along with our Family Range we have a growing Mini Meal Range. These mini versions of our 600kCal meals are perfect for the little guys to try! Take the stress out of mealtime by having healthy, delicious meals made by GourmetFuel - just simply heat and eat!