There I said it. My kids hate broccoli, I can’t even mention it, ditto for most things green as well as tomatoes, strawberries and grapes to name a few. Where I used to despair I now just accept that we are all different and it’s finding out what they will eat is far more important.
When I was a ‘younger’ mother I was bamboozled by parenting articles and books. If that wasn’t bad enough now with social media you have “uber Mom” bloggers suggesting rainbow lunch boxes (vegetables and fruit with lots of colours). While they looked gorgeous unfortunately mine came back untouched. Then the other side of the media is telling me that our kids are obese and type 2 diabetes becoming a near epidemic. I kind of felt I was dammed as a parent either way.
We are now aware that the food children eat can make a big difference on their energy, concentration and sometimes behaviour. But mealtimes for a child and parent can be stressful. Especially if a child is what is called ‘a fussy eater’. So what to do?
Well from experience of two very different children there are different approaches to look at different stages of their lives, just as there is with adults.
For the smallies, definitely blending in sneaky veg to say sauces really helps. It just does. As does blending up different fruits, including frozen berries and yogurt, and making them into ice pops. Introducing different foods early so they get used to different textures and tastes is also great. I’m not sure about rewarding for eating your veg or dinner as it makes it seem from an early stage like a it’s not a good thing yet the treat is?
Noticing how your child reacts to food can be insightful. Do they take their time, do they woolf it down, is smell and touch important to them? A great fun game to play is mindful eating, if and when you have some time over a meal. You can say close your eyes and listen to the food ;does it make a sound, smell the food, take a small bit and really chew it and feel and taste what it’s like. I realized one of my children hates strawberries or anything squishy as he just doesn’t like the texture and feel. Children are so much better than adults at using their senses and really get it. Not that you can do this all the time but it can let them notice more about what they are eating.
For older children who may decide to show their own ‘independence’ or really just not like a particular food agreeing on what they will eat can be helpful. So instead of saying ‘Oh my god why don’t you eat your vegetables?’ How about putting it positively? So what is it you do like? Name 5 fruit and veg you will eat, 3, 2, 1 if really stuck! Then you can agree to build on this, taste something and only then can you say you don’t like it. How you cook something can also make a difference some kids really do like veg that is not cooked like peppers and carrots as they can be sweet while not like them cooked. I personally don’t agree with cooking different meals, we are all way too busy to be short order cooks, so if something is in the meal you don’t like just don’t eat that part.
Finally, taking stress out of eating is very important if you are stressed and uptight around a child eating they will pick up on it. When work with clients it’s amazing how many comment on their eating habits as a child that has followed them through to adulthood. Food is there to be enjoyed and should be seen as a pleasurable experience so if they don’t eat broccoli don’t panic, I think they will be okay!