Food & Drink

Fussy Eaters

If your child is waging a war on healthy foods, how can you get them to enjoy a balanced diet?

In a recent survey carried out by Nutritionist Resource, 1000 parents were asked to name the biggest challenge they faced when it came to providing their children with a healthy lunchbox. The winning challenge, with 43% of the vote, was fussy eaters.

If your children refuse to eat what you make for them, it can be tough to ensure they are getting enough essential nutrients. Luckily, fussy eating is something many children grow out of - but what can you do in the meantime?

Lindsey, mum of three, shares her experience.

“My youngest, Katie, was incredibly fussy as a child. I used to tell her to imagine her broccoli was delicious ice cream, but - perhaps unsurprisingly - this didn’t wash. I would get angry and tell her she couldn’t leave the table until after she finished her dinner. This lead Katie to expect tears and shouting at every meal time which I recognised was unhealthy.

I soon changed tact and got her involved with the preparation of dinner. To my surprise she found this immensely fun and was so proud of the end result that she couldn’t help but eat it. Mealtimes still aren’t perfect, but we’re getting there.”

We spoke to Nutritionist Resource member Natasha Alonzi for her advice to parents like Lindsey.

Natasha says, “I would say to involve children in the choosing or making of food when assembling lunch boxes will make them more appealing and exciting. Ask them to pick and weigh the apples at the supermarket, or encourage them to grow cress that can be put on egg sandwiches, they could even cut up carrots or spiralise, that’s always fun, obviously with supervision.

Another tip I do with child clients is to pick a colour a day to eat each day of the week, so for example, red foods on a Monday, so tomato and mozzarella sandwich for lunch with a red apple or strawberries. Green foods on a Tuesday, spiralled courgette in a pesto sauce, kiwi and green Matcha muffin. You don't have to stick to the one colour but it can be encouraging for children to be involved and eating a rainbow.”

QUICK TIPS FOR PARENTS OF FUSSY EATERS

• Avoid making mealtimes stressful and resist the urge to punish your child for not eating.

• Try presenting food in a more fun, visually appealing way. Pinterest has lots of great ideas.

• Get them involved in the cooking/preparation process.

Nutritionist Resource is launching its Loveable Lunchboxes campaign just in time for back-to-school. Visit www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk for expert advice from trained nutrition professionals, lunchbox ideas, posters, tips and more.

September 2016