Advice Column, Health

My life as a Dietitian but a MOTHER to a fussy eater

  • Paarl Dietitians
  • Category Advice Column, Health

Thrown away yet another plate of your child’s food? OR is he/she refusing to eat anything else than french fries for the last two days – if anything at all? Have you gone from begging, to nagging to screaming just to get in one bite of veggies? Well, JOIN THE CLUB!

I am a dietitian (yes dietitians too can have children with eating troubles) and a mother of a 4 and 2 year old. My 4 year old daughter has been introduced to every possible fruit and vegetable as a baby and ate it all – from potatoes to leeks and peppers!! But once the terrible two’s hit she started refusing all her favourite healthy foods and everything on top of that. She would not even taste something new. If she could eat mini cheddars for a month she would and will NOT get tired of it. I wanted to pull the hair out of my head and became worried that she’ll develop nutritional deficiencies. I simply started implementing my knowledge as dietitian and it really worked – we are making great progression and every week she started to taste something new and the next week she will eat it – like it’s just another French fry…

As parent we make a common mistake and assume kids won’t eat or like certain foods and there is a perception that kids like chicken nuggets, fries and sandwiches and we are hesitant to introduce foods we fear they won’t eat.

Our attitude towards food are just as important as the foods we offer.

I want to share a few tips which really worked for me:

  • DO NOT make separate food for your child – I cannot stress this enough..If he doesn’t want to eat the food you prepared for him..whatever you do..DO NOT give in to temptation and give something else!! Children are master manipulators and food is one of the mayor ways to manipulate parents. This you should keep on implementing, but it worked like a charm
  • Eat at least one meal together as a family – monkey see..monkey do!
  • Let them help in food preparation – it helps them to learn about certain foods and get familiar with it.
  • Give small portion and praise your child for eating…even if it is just a bite.
  • Don’t give anything else than water in the hour before meals, this will ensure your child is hungry
  • Minimize distraction – try and avoid watching television while eating
  • Whatever you do try to not bribe with dessert or don’t use food as a reward. He will start to think of sweets as good and veggies as nasty.
  • Try and organise to eat with friends whose children eat well – good examples work well, but do not give too much attention
  • NEVER force a child to eat. If he rejects the food, stay calm, remove the plate, keep it in the microwave and when he complains he is hungry later on, offer the same food
  • Be patient. Some children are slow eater
  • Remember … kids eat with their eyes. So if you have to make a flower with cucumber and tomatoes or a sun with oranges, just do it, because the last thing you want is a teenager who still needs to have the crusts cut off of the bread and eats nothing but starch and meat!!
  • Keep introducing a new food with every meal. It takes 10-15 times for your toddler to see a new food before he/she will try it

Remember children’s tastes changes, so one day he’ll hate something, next month he will love it, so

KEEP CALM … and KEEP COOKING !

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