It can be very frustrating for parents and cargivers when a child is a fussy or picky eater. As caregivers we worry that the child gets all the nutritient he/she needs to grwo into a strong and healthy adult. However, sometimes adults can go through extremes to make a child eat, and therefore could cause more harm than good. The way we relate to food is established during our early years. You can help your child to have a healthy and positive experience with food. Most children will eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full, but that ability to tune in to their bodies is often lost during those early years as we try and coerce children to eat when they are not hungry.
Here are some tips that may help you take a new perspective on helping you and your child learn new ways of behaving around food.
?Stay calm and don’t make it a big issue if your child refuses a particular food. The more you show your frustration the less likely the child is going to have a positive experience around that particular food or food group and as a result will not want to eat it in the future.
?When introducing new foods to a very young child, remember that often a new food has to be introduced 5 to 10 times before a child accepts it
?Introduce 1 new food at a time, don’t overwhelm a young child with too many flavours and textures all at once.
?Make mealtimes a positive experience, chat, share news, talk about the food on the plate. Where does the food come from, what else can you make with a particular food, etc.
?Get your child involved in planning and preparing meals. Talk about why they like a certain type of food. Let the child be creative.
?Educate your child about how food fuels the body rather than labeling food as ‘good or ‘bad’. There is no ‘bad’ food. Allow Pizza, Burgers and other so-called “junk food” without labeling it as such. You can also make a more nourishing version of those foods at home.
?Don’t get angry, bribe, threaten or punish!
If you feel your child is losing weight or appears to be lethargic, do consult with your GP. Sometimes there may be an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed.