A Guest Post By childhood nutrition expert Sarah Gregory.
Do any of these challenges resonate with parents out there?
‘My little boy won’t eat’.
‘I can’t get my three-year-old to eat fruit and veg’.
‘My daughter won’t try anything new’.
‘I’m cooking three separate meals’.
Have you heard yourself saying:
‘You’re not getting any ice cream unless you eat all your dinner’.
‘You can’t get down from the table until you eat three more mouthfuls’.
How do you define what you’re facing?
- Fussy inconsistent eaters that won’t eat foods that they ate quite happily yesterday?
- Picky eaters who are selective about what they eat?
- Neophobia? AKA a child who generally is averse to trying new foods preferring monotony and routine?
- A child with sensory challenges?
We parents face an overwhelming number of challenges when it comes to our children’s eating habits and nutrition. I can say with some degree of confidence that most of us want our children to become happy healthy adults that make better food choices.
In the UK, I feel we haven’t been taught to take a holistic approach to food that brings parents and children together to help children make better food choices.
In my experience, as a Mum of 4, I believe the answer is not necessarily in the food you prepare, it is in fact in the building and supporting of a healthy relationship between your child and food, teaching them to eat well through participation and not pressure!
If you can identify the challenge you are facing, you can use the right tools to tackle the issue. I would start by making a list of all the foods that your child is eating and highlight the positives i.e. protein? Check. Fat? Check. Nutrients? Check. Shelve the negatives for now – fish fingers can count if they need to.
If they are lacking in the area of fruit and vegetables you can make smoothies, soups and sauces so that you feel confident and have a good foundation on which to build upon..
Here are some of my tips to start curating your family’s road to success.
- Exposure is key. Introduce one-pot meals (you can find recipes on my website or newsletter) and place them in the middle of the table. Encourage your child to serve themselves (even if only a spoonful). Serve with a side they like that is not sweet.
- Only cook enough vegetables for the people you know will eat them plus a spoonful more, it saves money, avoids food waste and stops ‘you’ over eating. Again encourage your child to serve themselves. It’s worth bearing in mind that vegetables can be weird . . . remember your own childhood experiences? Therefore, you might need to visibly demonstrate your enjoyment through embellishing and loudly expressing your delight eating them.
- Eat together: It does not have to be every meal- breakfast/ lunch/ dinner/ snack, get as many bodies around the table as humanly possible and tell a joke- a funny anecdote- or play a game.
- If you’re trying a new dish and you’re not confident your child will eat it, use two plates. Serve up what they will eat on one plate and the new food on another. This avoids contamination, which can put children off eating foods that they actually like.
- Get them cooking: encourage, where practical, children to get involved in any aspect of the cooking preparation no matter how small, for example by adding spices. This will get them excited about smells, taste and most importantly wanting to try.
Encourage your child to use as many of their senses as possible at the table. Have a pen and paper with some questions: what does the food look like? Feel like? Smell or taste like? Let your child write or draw the answer.
Sarah Gregory is a childhood nutrition expert and believes that teaching children how to eat well is as important as teaching them read and write.
She has created a unique, and simple, mindful eating plan, Your Little Foodie Learning Journey, to empower parents to teach their children how to eat well and how to make healthy food choices.
As a mother of four Sarah understands how worrying it is to have a child who only eats pasta or refuses to eat fruit and veg. So she created a unique, and simple, mindful eating plan, Your Little Foodie Learning Journey to teach her children how to develop a healthy relationship with food.
Her range of simple and effective tools help parents bring happy harmonious mealtimes to their home through the combined powers of participation, imagination and education.
To find out more about Sarah, download her FREE guide ‘8 changes you can make today that will improve your child’s eating habits, or to subscribe to her plan, Your Little Foodie Learning Journey by visiting http://www.sarahrosegregory.co.uk/