Struggling with fussy eaters? Help kids eat their greens with proven techniques
With under a week left to go until the end of Ramadan, many will be feeling relieved that schedules and mealtimes will soon be back to normal.
Parents of fussy eaters however may be a little more reticent about a return to regular meals.
Recent research has revealed it’s essential parents don’t stop offering children veggies despite their reluctance to try them.
A doctor from the UK’s Loughborough University said tastes are always changing with children and continued gentle encouragement to try a disliked food is important for helping them learn to like new tastes.
As well as non-food rewards, such as stickers, the best way to help children learn to like healthy foods, is to continue to incorporate them into everyday meals.
Even if it takes months, the research revealed perseverance was the most effective way of adding more vegetables into children’s diets.
It’s good to hear that continuing to push healthy food will eventually work, but what if you can’t wait months for something good to pass your children’s lips? What if their diet over the past month has consisted of little more than fries and pasta and you’re desperate to get something remotely unprocessed into their little tummies?
We asked parents for their proven methods of getting children to eat their greens and here are our favourites:
Chris Doyle: “Tomato sauce is my saviour. I blend all vegetables to death and add it into the tomato sauce and they can’t tell. I still do this for my 17 year old let alone the younger ones!”
And it doesn’t stop at tomato sauce, says Vickie Barlow. She explains: “I make a pesto and add as much greenery in there as I can - broccoli, spinach, rocket, kale etc. I freeze it in ice cube trays and use a cube at a time for 'superhero spaghetti'. I also make and freeze tomato sauce packed full of as much veg and possible and use for pizza sauce.”
Sneaking veggies in a pizza sauce isn’t the only way you can dress veggies up as treats, says Bindi Zaman. Grating carrots and courgettes into muffins or making smoothies and serving them in fancy glasses will also make children think that what they’re consuming is more party than practical.
Considering that your children may like their vegetables served in a less conventional way could also prove fruitful says Helen Beck. She says: “My son will only eat frozen vegetables – as in directly from the freezer completely uncooked. He will have peas, sweetcorn and green beans that way. I think he thinks they are somehow related to ice cream which is his passion!”
For Zia Noor, allowing children to grow their own vegetables really helps. She says: “It can be difficult in the Middle East but it’s not impossible. We’ve managed to grow tomatoes and cucumbers and my kids love watching them grow, picking them and eating them. They have a real sense of achievement so the effort it’s taken to grow them is worthwhile.”
Allowing children to take ownership of their decisions has proven beneficial for Theresa Tsui. She says: “I don't make a big deal of making them eat it. Because we eat Chinese style with the food in the middle and serve yourself, I casually say "more broccoli for me please" and kids being kids, want to know what the big deal about what you're eating is and ask for more too.
Another tactic is to allow them to take some ownership. For example, when you say you’re making a roast dinner, ask if they want broccoli or carrots. Tell them it’s their choice."
And if all else fails, would it be such a sin to tell your children a white lie?
Mahika D says: “My mum would convince me to eat fruits saying it was how princesses got rosy cheeks like they did in the Disney cartoons I loved. So I’d eat cherries, apple, strawberries to get rosy pink cheeks like Snow White. I think deep down I almost still believe it!”
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