i FUSSY EATERS
Fussy eating often correlates with a distinct developmental period in a young child’s life – the age of independence. The child wants control over anything and everything, including their food. With a slowdown of growth around the age of 12 months, you will notice that your child may not appear as hungry. The growth curve around this age flattens out. This is normal, but can lead to parental anxiety at mealtimes. However, there are ways to avoid the 'nugget and cheese sandwich' curse of fussy eating.
It can take 10 or more times of trying a food for a child to like it. Do not give up. Try it again, then again and again – though not on the same day. Give it a break for a few days and try it again.
Try different textures
Children are very sensitive to texture and may be rejecting the food because of its feel, rather than the taste. If you have no success with steamed zucchini, try it raw. Change the texture and you change the experience. The '10 times' rule also applies with texture.
Change the experience
The thing about processed and packaged foods is they are marketed directly to children, tapping into exactly how they like their food. Think like the companies. Package your food in colourful little containers. Serve a meal in a cup or a takeaway box. Use a straw to drink soup or tongs to eat spaghetti. Food should be fun for kids. If it isn’t, they will not embrace it. Adults eat all kinds of foods for health reasons alone (wheatgerm, wheatgrass shots, LSA, spirulina) and it is only afterwards we learn to love them. The reason we first eat them is because they are marketed to us as being ‘good for you’ or ‘superfoods’, not because they are necessarily delicious or tempting. Kids are marketed food as well. For example, a fun toy with a boxed-up lunch or a cereal that crackles and pops. How exciting!
To inspire similar levels of enthusiasm, you need to try a few marketing tools yourself. Try selling carrots as helping you see better and then challenge your children to try and see in a darkened room. Broccoli helps your hair grow long, and beans help you jump high. These are not scientifically-proven claims, but these foods are important for a healthy body. Getting your kids to taste them, even once, will help the process.
To hear more from Shirley, visit renewyourmind.com or come along to one of her mindful parenting courses at The Parenting Place centre in Greenlane. Each course runs for six weeks, commencing on Wednesday, 11 May, 7.30pm and Friday, 13 May, 10am. Go to theparentingplace.com for more details.
“Remember that mindfulness can be something you practise throughout the day. It simply means you are being aware of whatever you are doing or experiencing at that particular moment.”
A Year of Mindful Living