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Five ways to overcome children’s fussy eating

By Sangeeta Kocharekar October 10, 2016
CHILD FUSSY EATING

How to get ensure your child is getting their necessary vitamins despite their picky food choices

Ensuring that children eat properly at every meal is important as it affects their growth and wellbeing. However, it can be tricky when they are fussy eaters.

Debbie Evans, Founder and Clinical Director of Sydney’s most sought after children’s therapy service, Therapies for Kids, shares her top five tips and tricks so that your kids will be eating right in no time.

1. Make eating a social activity

EATING TOGETHER

Research demonstrates that children are more likely to try new foods when eating with an adult. By sharing at least one meal with kids per day, this gives them the opportunity to talk about food choices, daily activities and healthy lifestyle. Therefore, eating becomes a social activity. During these shared meal times, avoid distractions including television, electronic devices and toys so that the child is able to focus on the skills and movements required for eating.

2. Give everyone the same food

Make sure that everyone has the same variety of food as well as a serving of ‘safe food’. ‘Safe food’ is a food choice that a child will happily consume and should also be served to everyone at the table. For example, if a child will only eat plain pasta, then everyone should also have a serve of plain pasta.

PLAIN PASTA

At the same time if a family member likes broccoli, then everyone should also have broccoli on their plate. This provides children an opportunity to learn about different types of food and discuss this with who they are eating with.

3. Talk about the food on their plate

Try reframing negative food statements like "I don’t like it" and "I hate that food" to facilitate positive food discussion. It is helpful to ask kids questions about food to help them learn about what they are consuming, e.g. "Why is food good to eat?" This provides an opportunity to educate your child about nutritious food. For example, "This food has vitamins that stops you getting sick and helps make your bones strong.” Through discussion, this enables kids to develop confidence to explore food."

4. Start a 'rainbow challenge'

FOOD

Challenge your child to eat a different coloured food each day. Utilise a rainbow placement or chart on the fridge to track the variety of foods they consume. This challenge will facilitate discussion about how the food looks, its colour and how it feels. Encourage children to make their own food choices by selecting the colour of food and assisting with the preparation of their food choices.

5. Explore and play with food

Help your child develop the confidence to explore food. There are a number of ways to engage kids in exploring food such as getting them to assist in preparing dinner, washing vegetables, tossing salads and cutting simple vegetables with safe knives. This is a great opportunity to discuss with children where food comes from and the importance of a variety of foods.

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