If one of your children is a fussy eater, it can be really frustrating. You want your kids to be happy and healthy, and you know that one of the best ways to ensure that is to feed them healthy, nourishing foods. Yet they won’t eat anything you put in front of them! It definitely isn’t healthy for your child to live on things like chicken nuggets and chips, cake, or just one type of food for the rest of their days. Here are some tips that should finally help you to transform your fussy eater once and for all!
Figure Out What Kind Of Fussy Eater Your Child Is
Did you know that there are a number of different reasons your child may be a fussy eater? There are a few different kinds! Finding out which type yours is will help you to stop it once and for all.
This kind of fussy eater doesn’t like different textures. They don’t like the texture of certain foods on their tongue, and may also be the kind of kids who are very sensitive to touch and other sensations. They may like smoothies and having vegetables pureed, as they are easier to eat and this will help them get lots of nutrients and good stuff in their diets.
Did you know that a quarter of the population has more taste buds than average? This means they can actually smell and taste things more intensely than others! If your child says that grapefruit is too bitter and broccoli smells gross, they could be telling the truth. Just because you can’t taste it or smell it as much doesn’t mean they can’t.
If you let your child snack regularly, they’re not going to be so hungry come dinnertime. Many snackers eat a diet high in simple carbohydrates, and that can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels, affecting energy, hunger, and mood. If they’re eating things like crisps and other kiddy style snacks, it will definitely affect their meal times. Try to have healthy snacks on hand, such as chopped up vegetables. If they’re really hungry, they’ll eat them.
The Control Freak
Your child could be a control freak if your meal times are always a power struggle. This child likes to have total control over what they eat and don’t eat. The more you reinforce their negative behaviour and give it attention, the more likely they are to do it. Offering choice is a good approach, for example: would you prefer cooked vegetables or salad with your dinner? This can help them feel as if they have some kind of control over what they’re eating.
The Heavy Drinker
A child who has to have juice or milk with them all day can be full up for meals. Give them smoothies packed with nutrition and it’ll help them get their veg and fruit intake up. Try to just give them water outside of mealtimes, and they should feel more able to eat their meals. Milk and juice are full of calories, not to mention the sugar in juice! It’s no wonder they don’t want to eat it.
An Underlying Medical Issue
Don’t rule this out. Your child could have an underlying medical issue that’s stopping them from eating their food. It could be anything, such as a digestive disorder, a food allergy, or even autism. There are also possible psychological causes. If you’re confused, visiting a doctor could help you to get to the bottom of it.
Don’t Call Them A Picky Eater
Calling your child a picky eater gives attention to their eating habits, and they might even try to live up to their label later on down the line. Even if they want to try something new, they may not try it because of this label they feel they have to live up to. Avoid calling your child a picky eater, in front of them or to other people.
Sit Down To The Same Meal Together
Sitting down to the same meal together is the best way to help fussy eaters. Avoid giving them ‘kid food’ and eating separately. This will allow them to explore a wide variety of foods. They won’t develop a taste for any if you’re not all sitting down together to try them. There are so many more benefits to eating as a family too. Studies show that kids who eat with their parents do better at school, and are happier in general.
Have A Little Flexibility
This doesn’t mean you should always eat perfectly as a family. Of course you should allow for some flexibility. For instance, if you develop a system where your kids eat lots of portions of fruit and veg per day and you can track it, then maybe you can allow them a small dessert after dinner. Try to take a 90/10 approach to eating. Eat well 90% of the time, and have a treat 10% of the time. Teaching your kids to be healthy is really important, but so is teaching them to be balanced. You want them to grow up into well rounded adults who can make smart choices and live a balanced life. Going too far one way or the other is not healthy. Kids soak up more than you realize when they’re young!
Stop Power Struggles For Good
A lot of the time, fussy eating is all about a power struggle. You need to put a stop to these power struggles as soon as possible if you want everybody to live healthy, happy lives. Kids will refuse food sometimes to exert their independence and get attention. By making sure you give more attention for the positive, you’ll reinforce that behaviour rather than the negative behaviour. However, it’s usually best to keep your emotions under wraps as best you can. Making it too obvious that you’re anxious about meal times or that you’re super happy they tried a new food can change the way they eat and behave too. Staying neutral most of the time with a little praise is a really good way to reinforce their good habits.
Giving a choice between two healthy options, as mentioned before, is always a good way to stop power struggles.
Have Fun At Meal Times
Start having fun at meal times! Dinner shouldn’t be a time they dread because they have to practice perfect table manners and clear their plates. It should be a time you spend together as a family, sharing happy stories and bonding. How about creating a dinner time ritual? You could go around the table and share something great that happened to you that day. You could even light candles and make it a special occasion. Cut food into fun shapes. Encourage kids to peel their sprouts with their fingers. Who cares about mess if they’re enjoying their vegetables?
Of course you should probably not encourage too much mess if you’re eating in a restaurant. The main thing is to make sure you all look forward to your meal times.
Don’t Scare Them
Some things may scare your kids when it comes to food. You shouldn’t threaten them with punishment for not eating their dinner. Educate them instead. Give them short explanations about which foods are good for us and why. It’s probably best not to talk too much about things like the listeria outbreak, especially if they scare easily. However, depending on how old they are you could talk to them about things like that too. The more your kids know, the better!
Many people, even adults, don’t make the correlation between eating rubbish and feeling rubbish. If you educate your kids early on, they’ll know the best foods to eat to feel great.
Cook Food Together
Chances are, if your kids have helped you prepare something for dinner, they’re going to want to try it. This can be a great bonding experience for you both, and it can help them to break through the things that make them not want to try certain foods.
Don’t Give Up
Don’t give up on trying to feed your kids a variety of healthy foods. Food refusal doesn’t mean dislike. Sometimes, they just aren’t ready to try something new, especially if they haven’t had anything like it before. Always offer them lots of choice, and have a positive attitude around their meal times. You shouldn’t force them to try something new, but having a defeatist attitude towards feeding them won’t get you very far.
This may be a last ditch attempt to help your kids, but hypnotherapy could potentially be a powerful way to help them change their eating habits. A woman who would only eat chicken nuggets for 24 years was recently cured by this technique!
Start using some of these tips now and you could transform your fussy eater once and for all. The sooner you start, the better. Studies have shown that many adults with strange eating habits picked them up as children.