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Let's STOP catering to the fussy eater. Here’s how

Updated: Apr 14

So here is the issue

  • Children are fussy

  • They won’t sit still long enough

  • They say they are still hungry when going to bed

  • They will not eat their vegetables

  • They refuse to eat their meal

These are all things we are hearing from the parents when delivering our workshops and they are asking us

‘What do we do?’

Well, first things first. We are one of the luckiest countries in the world and it is a very rare thing to see any of our children go hungry or suffer from malnutrition. In fact one of my friends took her child to the doctor and said, ‘I am so concerned because she just doesn’t eat.’ The doctor said as long as she is drinking your child is well hydrated bring her back in 5 days.

The next dilemma is that children are becoming more and more fussy and turning their noses up to vegetables. This type of problem has been going on forever, so it’s not a new problem. What is a new problem is that we are now buying and consuming so much convenience food that we assume is healthy and nutritious. Our children’s’ palettes are craving and looking for the high sugar and salt content of food saturated in these quick and convenient snack foods which are generally packaged. Who would eat bland tasting veggies when you are accustomed to the intense flavour hit of processed food?

We live in a world that is full of busy people with busy lifestyles and everything we do is aimed at convenience and a quick fix. I want to point out that children are consuming so much more packaged and process foods that their palette is also leaning towards this type of food. The squeezie yoghurts that are consumed in abundance because they are perceived to be healthy, in fact have more than the daily allowance of sugar for that one serve. If parents were more informed about this they would change their choices.

Children are avoiding the veggies and eating more fruit in pursuit of the sweet fix that they are used to. Don’t get me wrong, fruit is very important for a healthy diet but veggies are even more important for the wellness of how our whole digestive system works.

Lets break these issues down:-

  1. Fussy eaters- let them be fussy but do not have anything in the house or cave into whingeing about what is on offer. It’s really hard to stay firm and consistent, but it will pay off in the long run through health, teeth, behaviour, weight etc.

  2. Sitting still- Children need to sit still whilst eating mainly so they don’t choke. Set your expectation low to start with, maybe 5-10 minutes. Do not let children revisit their dinner because this will enable dinner to be extended for hours.

  3. Bedtime hunger- children are experts at playing on your guilt and if you think they haven’t had enough to eat, then the next night they just might rethink how much they actually have for dinner especially if they know you are staying firm on no food after dinner.

  4. Keep offering veggies. Sometimes it may take a child 5 or 6 times to actually eat it but provide it in small portions and let them see you eating it also, role modelling is a very powerful tool with children

  5. Don’t get upset if your child refuses to eat their dinner. No emotion, no fuss, but again, nothing else on offer.

  • Taste before you waste

  • You get what you get and you don’t get upset

  • 2 choices- either this or this.

  • Do not make meal times a chore.

  • If a child has finished their meal take it away even if it is only half finished

  • No food after dinner, unless its carrot or celery sticks maybe a small piece of fruit

  • Find what they like and go with it.

Keep all sweet things out of the house. I hear some families who have Friday night surprise night. This way their children are not missing out just given very clear guidelines and boundaries around when it is available in your household.

We are the adults and we provide the food for our children. It is our responsibility to set them up with healthy choices now so that they are educated as teens and adults to make the right life style choices for their own well-being.

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