How are you all doing today?
I am immensely Delighted and thankful to SRILAKSHMI for writing a very helpful GUEST BLOG for us at LIFEATHOME. A huge Shout out to her.
Let me give a brief introduction of this wonderful blogger 🙂
Srilakshmi is an ex-software engineer, now a Certified heath coach certification from the USA. She also has a certification in ‘Child nutrition and cooking’ from Stanford Online. Her interests are family nutrition and making healthy eating easy for families.
Do Follow her on:-
Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/YourChildsPlate/
Now without further ado, Let’s see what she has to say about picky eaters
Children are inconsistent eaters! And picky eating is one of the struggles every parent dreads about! And being a mom of a toddler, I have been through phases of picky eating too! It’s hard! But trust me, you can sail through it smoothly if you follow some simple strategies!
Let us first understand what and how much a child needs to eat to get optimum nutrition. A child’s stomach is only as big as his/her fist. Ideally, each meal is supposed to contain carbohydrates, proteins, fruits and vegetables along with healthy fats. Around 50% of their meal consisting of carbohydrates and proteins, the other 40-50% consisting of fruits and vegetables. But that hardly is the case with picky eaters and I know most of you are wondering it’s tough to get a child eat one serving of food, forget one serving of each type of food!
However, research suggests – when a self-fed child is exposed to a variety of foods and is the offered meals are wholesome and balanced, in a week, they will end up getting enough nutrition from all food groups over a period of one week.
Start right – Expose kids to a variety of foods from the beginning. It gets tougher to introduce newer foods after toddler ages. Don’t fuss if they don’t like it at the first go. It takes at least 10-15 times for a child to even accept a new food. Don’t give up!
Eat as a Family – This is surely a winner! It helps model behaviour that the whole family eats healthy and eats the same food. Plan at least one meal of a day together as a family. Help your child to learn to eat by themselves and as much as they want. Kids are copy cats and they learn everything from what they see! They see you enjoy your meal times, they will do it too!
At the dinner table, make a big deal out of every small success – trying new foods, or eating what is served without fuss, being happy at the dinner tables, following food etiquette, saying please and thank you! Everything deserves appreciation!
Physical activity – Remember – A child WILL eat when he/she is hungry! Make sure they have enough activity before meal times. A hungry child would gobble up almost anything you serve! To get a child hungry, space meal times appropriately and include enough physical activity & NO JUNK in between!
This was something that worked well with my daughter! During winter months, we would run a few times up and down the stairs together like a game to get physical activity!
Variety & Creativity – We all get bored with same kind of food everyday. Make sure to offer variety and options. To make sure they get enough food, include one food on their plate that’s their favourite. And use the ‘ONE BITE RULE’ to try a new food at least once Before rejecting it.
Be creative in your ways to encourage them to eat and also in presentation! Some kids decide if a food is palatable just by its looks! If a child doesn’t want to eat spinach, think how you can add it into their favourite dish.
Eg. Turn a boring dosa into a green dosa by adding spinach puree and few other flavors. But you don’t speak about it as ‘Spinach dosa’ to your child! Tell him/her how excited you are to eat a colorful tree-shaped pancakes for breakfast! 😀
Involve them in simple kitchen tasks – Include kids in food prep like peeling cooked potato skin, washing vegetables, helping decide the menu, pour out portions, stir.
Take kids to grocery stores, let them pick the fruits and vegetables. Also ask them to pick a fruit they might want to try! Research suggests that kids who handle food bring preparation are more probable of trying it!
It’s about how you call it – ‘Grow tall’ foods, ‘run fast’ foods, ‘see better’ foods, ‘smart’ foods. Kids can relate to these terms than just saying – ‘Broccoli is good for you! EAT IT!’
Reduce the junk calories – This is very crucial & most important and I can’t stress enough on it! Every human has to eat food to survive. Junk calories like juices, biscuits, chocolates, ice creams, pizzas, cakes & pastries and other occasional foods are calorie rich and nutrition-sparse and will mask hunger. Their little tummies will have no place for real food. When they are hungry, give them real foods. It might be tough in the beginning but they WILL eat when they are hungry if they are not offered junk instead.
Don’t overwhelm – kids with too much food at once and don’t force them to eat something or clean up their plates. Smaller portions served at a time makes them feel more accomplished and good about the whole experience!
Be patient and don’t stress – As parents, we have to clear our mind that our kids ‘WONT’ eat try new food! Get off the fear! Your children pick the feelings from you! Don’t be anxious that your kid won’t eat. They can’t be hungry forever! Set realistic goals about how much your child would eat. Keep power struggles away from the dinner table!
Childhood is a very stressful phase to pass for a parent when you have a picky eater. All kids are different – some kids have a better appetite than others, some kids are sensitive to textures and spice levels, some are adventurous eaters while some are just scared to try new foods because the are just apprehensive!
As a grown up, we would never like it if someone pushes a spoonful of food you dislike down your throat! Respect your child’s likes and dislikes. Never force feed your child making mealtimes a punishment. These kind of kids are ones who are more prone to end up with problems like eating disorders, overeating, obesity etc. If you are concerned about your child’s weight gain, speak to your child’s paediatrician.
As Parents, our responsibility is to just provide a healthy balanced meal and as kids, they are responsible to eat how much they like, and what they like! I always suggest to include one item on your child’s plate that you are sure your child would eat – No one wants a hungry & cranky child!
It is never too late to start shaping your young child’s taste and help them develop a good relationship with food
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Thanks for reading 🙂