Combating Fussy Eaters
Tips to help feed the family and reduce the fuss
Let’s face it children can be fussy eaters and it worries many parents that are conscious of providing a nutrient rich diet for their children. Whether it be a textural issue, colour, shape or flavour of food children can turn away and refuse to consume food. Fussy eating can be part of development in children as they explore their environment and asserting choices. Always keep this in mind and remain calm about it. It is often a phase that will pass.
Making it Nutrient Dense
The good news is that we can develop great ways to mask nutrient rich foods into everyday meals. Here are some quick tips!
- Liver pate can be added to meals such as Bolognese, meat loaf, rissoles, soups, stews, mash. Liver pate provides essential vitamins of B12, vitamin A, riboflavin and copper. It is also rich in the essential nutrient’s folate, iron and choline.
- Gelatin is abundant in amino acids like glycine, proline, and valine (this is an essential amino acid that cannot be produced by the human body, which means it must come from the diet). As well as amino acids lysine, alanine, and arginine. It has no flavour by itself. Gelatin can be used to make homemade Jelly, homemade lollies and raw desserts!
- Collagen – all the same benefits of gelatin but doesn’t make things ‘set’. You can add it to everything - It has no taste so no one will know it's in there and it won’t change the texture. Perfect for drinks, main meals, desserts and even baking. It really is wonderfully versatile!
- Bone Broth or Stocks can be added to many dishes such as curries, soups, Bolognese, scrambled eggs, mash. You can make your own or buy a dehydrated broth and sneak it into many things. Bone broth advocates report lower joint pain and osteoarthritis, detoxify the liver, aid in wound healing, prevent ageing skin, support digestive health, balance hormones, increase energy, strengthen bones, improve quality of sleep, alleviate symptoms from certain autoimmune conditions, and boost immune function.
- Vegetables, they can be be hidden in almost anything by finely dicing, grating or pureeing. Meals such as a pasta sauces, mash or even muffins can hide vegetables therefore increasing the intake of all essential vitamins and minerals from the hidden vegetables.
- Vitamin C is an immune boosting essential nutrient and consuming vitamin c rich foods can have tremendous benefits to our health. Keep a bowl of Vitamin C rich fruits handy and sneak some vitamin C rich food-based supplements such as CamuCamu and Kakadu Plum into any smoothies or jellies you make.
- Eggs are rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Egg yolks contain more calories and fat than the whites. They are a source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Incorporate eggs into baked goods, scrambled eggs, mash cooked yolks into vegetables or meals or use them as a base to a meal such as frittatas or quiches.
- Add in some good fats – Good fats like Ghee, Coconut Oil and Avocado are very versatile and benefit the body with Vitamin A, D and boosts your essential fatty acid intake which is essential for brain health. You can use avocado and coconut oil in raw desserts, make avocado into a chocolate mousse, roast and fry your meals with ghee and all of them can be made into different dips and/or sauces!
We can always improve our nutrition. Having variety is the key. It’s good for our body but also helps relieve boredom of the same foods over and over.
Making it Fun
Combating fussy eaters can also mean making food interesting to them. Below are our top 3 tips for keeping food fun.
- Involve them in the preparation. This can mean getting them to help with the shopping, help to decide what is on the meal plan for the week, help in the kitchen and even help to set the table or serve the meal. Having your own garden can be a great asset too. Even if it is just herbs and/or some lettuces. The gratification from tending and growing your own food can do wonders for children and their eating habits. Be mindful to keep educating them too. While preparing the meal, talk to them and teach them why the food is healthy, what part of their body it nurtures or where and how it grows. If they ask a question you don’t know the answer to, be honest and then look it up together.
- Keep it interesting. Make the food fun to begin with. Cut food into different shapes, have a rainbow of colours on the plate and even make pictures with the meal on the plate! You can be as creative as you can. If you struggle with creativity, Google and Pinterest as great sources of ideas. Finger size foods are perfect and having something to dip them in makes it even better. Don’t try to introduce too many new foods at once. Just do one at a time. Some children like to keep all different kinds of food separate, as in not touching at all! It can be challenging but the fun and colourful kids’ plates that have many separate little sections are great for this.
- Create an atmosphere. When you make dinner a special time it reduces the stress that can be created at dinner for everyone. Eating at the table as a family (be it 2 or 10 of you) is important. Put some music on in the background. Set the table nicely. Each child can take a turn in how they would like the table to be set. Think candles (battery operated if there are age/safety concerns), flowers, homemade place mats, essential oils diffusing, lights dimmed, scented notes or affirmations under the plates (the warmth from the plate brings out the scent and when the meal is finished everyone gets to read their note! Talk about your top 3 moments of the day to help instil a habit of gratitude. Make it a fun time. And when everyone is finished their meal, maybe a family game can be played before cleaning up and/or bed.
Nourishing the family can be stressful sometimes this is OK and understandable, but it doesn’t have to continue that way. I hope these ideas will help you to feed your fussy little one or at least sneak in some extra nutrient dense foods in for them and reduce the dinner time stress. As I mentioned, fussy eating is often a phase but if you are truly concerned about the behaviour around food or your children not getting enough nutrients please don’t hesitate to ask for help.