Kids and Food

2018-06-BettinaJune18I am going to let you in on a secret; I have a very picky five-year-old on my hands. Up until the age of two she used to eat pretty much anything. I remember my hubby and I getting comments at our Saturday breakfast spot from onlookers as our daughter would drink up green juice and exclaim, "Yummy!" My mum bubble was complete.

Unfortunately, from one day to another it completely changed. Suddenly everything was, “Yuck!”, including any type of vegetable. Teachers at school found it particularly entertaining, considering my line of work! I remember going through a similar stage when I was my daughter’s age - the difference being that I just didn't eat anything at all.

However, we never stressed about it.

What to do?

1. Give her more of what she loves in 100 different varieties - I’m specifically talking about pasta, here!

2. Don't stress about making the same meals over and over. The main thing is that at least your kid’s eating.

3. Introduce different foods slowly. As long as she gives them a go, it's a win!

4. Involve her in the process; being part of the preparation (peeling, chopping and cooking) means your kid is more likely to try something new.

5. Letting your kid make the choice of what goes on to her plate. Touching, smelling and feeling what you’re about to eat is all part of the sensory experience.

6. I am going to say it again - don't stress, take it slowly and have patience. She is still a picky eater but is heaps better and a lot more willing to include different foods into her diet. It's a work in progress.

7. One of the easiest ways to include more veg in our children’s diets is to blend or mix them into their favourite sauces. Classic tomato sauce is the perfect example of a staple kids’ food being turned into a vitamin-packed meal. Chunkier vegetables that might normally get picked out, such as carrots, greens and potatoes are fantastic incorporated into pancakes and breads.

8. Having a very strong-willed little girl, I’ve come to realise that letting her choose what she wants to eat and put on her plate encourages her to be more adventurous. Using a plate with different compartments allows you to separate foods and let your kids try three or four different options at mealtimes. If the plates are fun and colourful, that’s an added bonus!

9. Last but not least, it all starts with parents – we should set a good example for how our children eat and view food. I try to involve my daughter as much possible by bringing her along to shops and farmers’ markets – she even has a little woven basket, which she is encouraged to fill with a selection of fresh food – and we play games where she learns the different names of fruits and vegetables. These outings take a little bit longer (as you can imagine!) but teach her where her food comes from – hopefully this will leave a lasting impression.

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