Fussy or picky eaters are a parent’s worst nightmare. You cajole, you plead, you serve him with a variety of food but all he does is throw it on the floor or plainly refuse it. You try to hold him down as you force a spoonful of smoothie into his mouth, you pretend it’s an airplane and try to fly it into his mouth, but it’s all useless, making mealtimes a dreaded event. However, it doesn’t have to be.
Children eat with their eyes
True to their human nature, children also appreciate pretty presentations. The first thing you want to do is incorporate color onto his dish or take a page out of Japanese housewives and emulate their bentos. From Hello Kitty to cute little pandas, these lovingly put together lunchboxes of art are not only easy on the eyes, they are nutritious as well. It is a well balanced meal of carbs, protein and fibre.
Sometimes it takes a little creative deception
Another method of using presentation to convince your kids to eat whatever is on their plate is to disguise certain foods. If you know that they do not like brussel sprouts or broccoli, you can puree it in a soup and make it look like something they do like or even bake it into a cupcake – there are plenty of vegan recipes on the internet that you can tweak for your purposes.
Everyone enjoys a good chocolate or ice cream, kids especially. However, instead of serving up a prepackaged bar of chocolate from the store, you can make your own with healthy ingredients such as choc peanut butter protein powder to substitute your sugar and flavoring. Swapping out certain ingredients with a healthy alternative is one way to help your kids eat a balanced diet.
Start at the beginning
To avoid raising a picky eater, make sure you start introducing solids to your baby at six months. The more textures and tastes he is exposed to, the more accepting he will be of food. If you withhold certain foods from him because it is too sweet, too greasy, too foreign, it will develop the habit of being picky with food. If there is something he wants to try, let him. A popular method of weaning or introducing solids is called baby led weaning, and basically it is what it sounds like: your child should be allowed to feed himself whatever he wants. There should be no spoon feeding, no purees, but rather serving him large chunks of baby safe whole foods such as carrots, avocados, bananas and the like. As he grows older, you can introduce noodles, rice, bread and protein in the form of tofu or chicken. Having hands on contact with different textures and being able to handle his own food will make feeding time interesting and fun for your toddler. He will start to look forward to mealtimes rather than make it a dreaded event for the both of you.