It’s incredibly frustrating for parents to have children that refuse almost all kinds of food except bacon and fried chicken. This is especially hard when you have a party to go to where the menu is out of your hands, or when you want to have a “civilized” family meal in a place that doesn’t sell fast food. You’re the adult, and ideally, you should know best. So let’s gear up for the hard battle: You vs. the picky eater!
This is most likely one of the hardest things to achieve, but try not to get hot-headed when asking your child to eat whatever is on the table. According to renowned pediatrician Dr. Bill Sears, in his experience, kids will still keep growing despite not being a veggie-lover. He says a child under five needs about three servings of a tablespoon of vegetables a day. So don’t overarch, but try to win the small battles with this one.
A child’s stomach is only about the size of a fist, so don’t expect them to gobble up a plateful of rice in one sitting. Just give small portions at first and add more if you see that they can still take it. This is called the less-is-more meal plan, which also helps control blood sugar issues and helps lessen mood swings.
Help set the pace for your child’s eating style by counting down the bites or spoonfuls that he or she can ingest. Try to push for more as much as you can. This may also help your child try out new types of food.
Most chefs would recommend super small cuts or slices of certain types of food like vegetables, and hide or mix it with the types of food that they do like to eat. For example, you can dice up carrots to the smallest degree and mix it with ground beef and make meatballs or a burger patty. Celebrity mom Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo recommends adding a spoonful of gotu kola powder to her child’s favorite fried rice recipe. It’s basically a dried herb that helps improve memory and reduce anxiety levels, among other benefits.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for families to eat at different times due to our varied schedules. It’s also almost the norm to have some form of gadget on the table while eating too. Perhaps a good strategy to get your picky eater to get in the groove is to start introducing a balanced meal system for the entire family, and not just the child. This means everyone must eat the same things, at the same time. This might not work immediately, but with time, consistency, and effort, this will help instill food discipline.
Bribes might be a quick fix by getting the kid to eat whatever you tell them to because something much more enticing is on the horizon. But what about the next day and the next week? Will you keep bribing them every day? This is actually counterproductive because it just gets them fixated on the prize. Not to mention, this will add up on additional costs on your end.
Getting them involved in meal preparation will help them get excited about different types of food. Meal time need not be super rigid if your child also just wants to have fun while having meals. Allow them to be the one to smear their favorite peanut butter on their sandwiches, or give them various types of dips which they can use to make small veggie sticks more appealing.
We really can’t blame the children if they don’t feel hungry during lunch time if they had a snack after breakfast. It’s the same for us adults–sometimes our stomach feels the hunger pang after the “normal” lunch hour. It’s best to avoid having feeding problems with your kid by giving at least two hours in between meals.
Children don’t need to worry about calories as much as we adults do, but it’s still best to make every calorie worth their while. You can do this by giving them nutrition servings in small doses. Focus on different nutrient-rich food types that most children do like such as cheese, pasta, eggs, yoghurt, peanut butter, and more.
Once in a while, invite a friend or classmate whom you know doesn’t have an issue with being a picky eater. Let them eat together and your child will be surprised to know that kids his or her age or a bit older don’t always gravitate toward deep-fried nuggets. Get them to play first, and get them hungry. Then serve a nice bowl of soup and other viands that are nutritious and appealing, and hopefully, your child will copy his or her friend and eat some too. Afterwards, recognize the positivity in their little meal session.
At the end of the day, what’s important is your child does eat. Getting them to have proper nutrition might be an uphill battle, but as any parent would know, seeing them thrive and grow up to be strong, healthy, and smart will make any struggle during meal time worth it.