7 Tricks For Fussy Eaters That Actually Work
With the onset of winters the variety of vegetables available in our local market are increasing. With that seems to be increasing my struggle of feeding my fussy kids these. The broccoli is a ‘nah,’ the lettuce salad is a ‘yuk,’ the beans a’ ‘blah!’ I really can’t be preparing different foods for these fussy kids. Also I’m not a short order cook. Things need to be planned and the kids absolutely had to eat what is being served. I realized in the need to cater to the kids demands, we were all repeatedly eating the same food days on end.
I have now resolved to stop catering to each of my kids whims. Besides, the children had to be grateful for what ever was served to them.
I know I’ve waged war with my 2yo and 6yo. But I had a strong resolve and these 7 Tricks For Fussy Eaters That Actually Work.
- Be Calm
Fussy eaters thrive on mom’s paranoia. They know if they refuse, throw a tantrum and resist, mom’s going to come up with something better to eat. This was me. And I had to stop. Now I just tell the kids what’s for food. When possible I seek their help in planning the menu. After all I must consider their tastes and preferences. But what’s made is what they have to eat. If they don’t want it; well that’s their choice. My older one understands this well and the little one is getting there too.
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- Serve Small Portions
Big portions can be intimidating and leave kids thinking, “I have to eat all of that?!” To a child who is a fussy eater, smaller portions are definitely lesser intimidating to eat. So that’s what I do now. A small portion of vegetables, a small portion of protein and a small portion of fruit works better than mixing them all up and serving it to them. I’m basically just bifurcating the food into smaller quantities of separate things and serving them enough quantity to fill their tummies.
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- Food Pairing
This is the best trick in my book thus so far! I read about it recently and realized it is actually almost what I was doing all this while. My older one is a fussy eater and definitely needed food pairing. Basically what this means is that I pair the food that the kids don’t want to eat (basically the healthy one) with a small portion of their preferred nutrition dense food. So let’s say I really want them to have broccoli with a side serving of fish mash and basil infused tomato, I know there is going to be a struggle. Add a few pieces of pasta in the soup and the are good to go. They love cheese and I sprinkled some cheese on their vegetables. This food pairing really helps them to look forward to their meals in a more excited way. Surprisingly, they aren’t so resistant to trying new foods anymore. Dips, purees, de-hydrated foods: all these are examples of nutrition dense foods I use for pairing.
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- Tell them that their favourite character loves them.
This has been super fun. I just tell my daughter ‘Golidlocks loved eating soup’ and she totally loved the idea! The soup was gone with a few mentions of Goldilocks! Or I will just tell my son that the muscles he saw on his uncle were because he ate eggs every day. Helps loads this little idea.
5. Don’t mention it!
I take the vow of silence when I am experimenting or trying new things with the kids. With the entire pairing trick going so well, the fussy kids don’t bother about the subtle changes and I don’t tell. I have started adding beetroot to their rice, pumpkin in their soups and so far, it has been a good. No wars. No casualties. Once they are done, I casually tell them ‘You know the pumpkin in the soup tastes so good doesn’t it.’
6. Say the right things
I keep talking about the benefits of eating healthy and how not eating the right foods in the long run can be detrimental to health. Encouraging them as they eat, even if they are just trying the food works very well for fussy eaters.
7. I negotiate (read bribe) and I don’t feel guilty
There are certainly days when I feel like this isn’t working. They are being spoilt and entitled and I am failing. There are still days when they don’t like what I have cooked (can’t blame them because there are days when I myself don’t like what I have cooked). But it is essential for them to eat. I do give them a little bribe to get through to the meal. “You can watch TV for 10 mins after your food is done’ or even ‘Try everything and you can get a second helping of whatever you like’ or ‘Finish your dinner and you can have a little dessert.’
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Also read Teach Your Baby To Eat Independently.