Do you ever ask yourself, “why can’t my kids like food just as much as I do?” Well you maybe amongst the lucky parents whose kids just eat everything their parents put on the table. Mines are not. It’s a struggle sometimes. Some of you may call them picky eaters. I call them ‘being kids’. Not everyone will like all types food. Especially not kids. Their taste buds are developing and experimenting. Searching for the perfect food.
It’s always easier said than done, despite knowing that they might be going through a phase in their young life, we can’t stop being worried as parents. We want them to eat their meals and drink their drinks, after all a full belly is a happy kid. There are few things we can do to help our kids eat better.
- Stay calm even when it’s hard to.
- Get them involved as much as possible.
- Enlist their help in planning the weekly family menu; shopping for it, preparing it and cooking it. If possible, the shopping, food preparation and cooking shouldn’t be done on same day if possible so you are all not overwhelmed.
“Picky eaters” are not necessarily fussy, they eat alright, they are just very selective in what they eat. I mean VERY selective. Letting them eat WHAT, WHEN and HOW they want, give both the kids and parents peace of mind.
What do they eat? Are you giving them vegetarian meals when they may not like to vegetarian, or vice versa. Are they choosing healthy options? We need to educate them about healthy foods right from early age. Remember the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctors away”, if like my kids who have phobia for going to see the doctors because they are scared of injections, that might be a good incentives to make them eat their fruits and vegetables. Stocking the house with healthy food channels their mind into the right food they need to eat. The food should be balanced. Fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins, Fat and oil and water. Make a list of food they like, if they are older, ask them to list their top five favourite food. Don’t be scared to repeat food. Kids like patterns and routines. They may not mind eating those five food over and over again. Be mindful when introducing new food. Gradually expose them to eat. Maybe when you eat out, or from a friend or family members house. We may feel bad if after labouring to make a new recipe and they didn’t like it.
Yes it’s good practice to eat three healthy meals a day, breakfast (the most important meal of the day) lunch and dinner. But, how about when they don’t like breakfast for example. Or instead of having their breakfast 8 o’clock in the morning, they actually prefer it 10am? Because the kids have to leave for school, we can make alternative food for them. For example smoothie with coconut milk can give the kids all the nutrients the need from a pot of cereal. A banana (any of their favourite fruit) and a kid beverage drink like milk or hot chocolate can be a none-raditional breakfast. Some kids don’t like cereal or toast in the morning. They may like a piece of ham sandwich. Some may like their dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. Tailor to the needs of the child.
The how is how do they like it? Some children for instance like their carrots sliced, like finger foods. Others diced or chopped into little buttons. The NHS choices website (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/fussy-eaters.aspx# ) advice parents to try finger food for toddlers as its easy for them to pick up and eat. There are various ways of cooking one food. If you think your kids may not like rice, find out other ways of cooking rice. How do they like it? chips over roast potatoes? jollof rice over fried rice? Mash over poundo? How is the food served? do they have it in a bowl or a flat plate? is it something they can just pick up, like a hot dog and eat or would they need some form of rituals to eat the food. Kids would be kids and that means they would want to finish up quickly so they can play. How is the food presented? ask the kid if they want the tomatoes stew on top of the rice, right in the middle, or do they want it by the side?
In summary, if you are dealing with picky eater, do not worry. If it is a huge concern, contact your health practitioner who could refer you to a family nutritionist.
According to Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London “Every kid is different,” he said. “There is a genetic tendency to be more or less fussy.” But, he adds, parents should take heart that such behaviour isn’t immutable. “You can modify it by changing the family’s habits, the way you present food to the child and the whole concept of the mealtime,” The Guardian October 2016