Fortunately for us Goldilocks is a great eater, but I do think is an exception to the rule and plenty of parents I know grate, slice, mince and diguise in a slathering of tomato sauce their kids vegies in order to get some greens in their tums!
If you’re one of those parents whom struggle with getting their kids to eat greens then the below article written by Paula Goodyear offers some helpful advice!
You’d think being a nutritionist qualifies you to instantly fix your own child’s fussy eating, but that’s not always how it works. By the time her daughter turned five, nutritionist Karen Fischer had spent two years diligently chopping, cooking and serving up vegetables to put on her plate – and then scraping them into the compost bin, along with half the rice and some of the meat.
“I could have composted enough for the entire Royal Botanic Gardens with all the nutritious meals I had to throw out each week. But then I began to panic. Was I being a bad parent? Or was I crap nutritionist?” says Fischer whose child’s refusal to eat vegetables and fruit started at the age of three.
It was then that she decided to investigate marketing strategies – including how junk food is pitched to children – to find a way to make her child want to eat foods like porridge oats and broccoli. Based on her research, she looked at the things that interested her child and found positive ways to link them to eating healthy foods. The day Fischer persuaded her daughter that green beans and carrots would help her swim better was the first time in years that she didn’t have to compost her daughter’s dinner.
Five years on – with her daughter now happily eating most foods – Fischer is sharing her ideas in a new book Healthy Family, Happy Family. Although she includes standard strategies to help kids eat healthier food – like involving them with food preparation or growing vegetables – she has a strong focus on using your imagination to give food more appeal to children. All kids and their families are different – what piques one child’s interest in cauliflower might not work for another. But this book sets out a varied menu of ideas and examples that most parents should be able to adapt to their own children. Her approaches include:
- Use your child’s interests to sell them fruit and veg – if they like swimming, talk about the kinds of food swimming stars would eat for energy
- Talk up the benefits of healthy foods regularly. Junk food advertisers spruik their products daily and parents can do the same with fruit and vegetables. “Vegetables help make your bones stronger for running’; “carrots can help you have sparkly eyesight’; ‘green vegies are the best – have you noticed how Shrek likes green, koalas eat green leaves; the Incredible Hunk is green?’
- Slap on a slogan – call fruit ‘power fruit’ as in ‘let’s have some power fruit so you can play for a really long time’ or make your child ‘brainy grainy sandwiches’.
- Add some entertainment value. If a four year old loves dinosaurs, pesto can become ‘dinosaur paste’; if it’s fairies, make it ‘fairy spread’ or ‘magic butter’.
- Explain how vegetables grow. Show your child the plants in the garden or vegetables in a nursery and explain how the root systems suck up nutrients from the soil. ‘Vegetables need water to live – just like us. The leaves are clever – they convert sunlight into green stuff called chlorophyll- when you eat those chlorophyll-rich leaves, it makes your blood flow better and your body strong.’
- Have adventure tasting plates once a week to try out new foods like roast capsicum, and grainy crackers with hummous.
- Taste your children’s food before you serve it to make sure it tastes ok – dishing up stringy celery or kerosene carrots can turn them off.
- Serve vegetables with dips or a more child-friendly homemade dressing made with cider vinegar, olive oil and a dash of honey.
Is fussy eating more of a problem now than it used to be? Fischer believes it is, partly because there are now more food choices.
“Fridges weren’t always packed with so many goodies. But there were also stricter mealtimes where everyone ate at certain times – and children were starving because they’d been out all day playing,” she says. “I think children tend to spend more time at home now – they can easily grab a snack so they’re not always so hungry at mealtimes.”
Healthy Family, Happy Family also includes good sections on nutrition for children, together with recipes and a planning guide to make it easier to fit healthy eating into a busy schedule. It’s published by Exisle, RRP $34.99
If this doesn’t work and you’re still struggling to get your littlies to eat their ‘dinosaur paste’ or ‘fairy spread’ then try the fab Chowbot fork and spoon set. At $15.95 this cute little cutlery set will help support your food consuming mission! Made out of soft, easy to grip silicon handles this delightful little set will add some excitement and interest to meal times!