Tip #6: Embrace Diversity

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Source: Gratisography

This has two main objectives:

1) Making diversity the new norm

If you want kids to be more accepting to new foods, change ingredients around often. This teaches children to be adaptive and flexible.

Think of a person that has lived in several places (like me!). I’ve lived in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, which means I’ve met and seen many different people from different cultures. When compared with my peers, I am more accepting and understanding of different traditions, religions etc.

Something similar goes for food. If you child constantly sees new combinations and foods appear on the dinner table, they will gradually understand that CHANGE is OK, and it’s not that scary. They will feel more at ease with new flavours and stepping out of their comfort zone.

2) Creating interesting meals

Who likes spaghetti with meatballs 7 days a week?spaghetti-576787_1280.png

Make meals interesting and something to look forward to! If it’s oats with blueberries today, why not add some cocoa powder and bananas tomorrow? If you made chicken avocado sandwiches today, why not change it to cheese and avocado toast tomorrow?

If children find meal time more interesting, they will generally be more excited about it!

Things to keep in mind


165050612.jpgMake sure there’s at least one food that your child will like
. This makes your child more comfortable with meal time, and assures you that he/she will be eating something. When children feel more comfortable, they will be more likely to try other things on the table.

Even if your child likes one dish a lot, be mindful of how often you serve it. You want to teach them to have a balanced and versatile diet and not rely on only one type of food. Serving it once in a while will also keep them excited about it, rather than getting bored of it!

-R.L.

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Tip #4: Play with food

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Play chess with your veggies!  |  Source: Pixabay

Yes.

Let them play with it!

Mush it, touch it and maybe lick it. This is especially useful for younger children when they’re still exploring things around them.

If they’re not allowed to explore the food and figure out themselves that it’s safe to eat, they’re unlikely to be putting it into their mouth.

So give your kids some freedom in exploring new foods, and maybe even get them involved in the kitchen when you’re decorating the cake or topping the breakfast oats.

Other Fun Ideas:

  • Make star shaped and heart shaped sandwiches with cookie cutters
  • Make animals out of dough
  • Use a mini ice-cream scoop to make little watermelon or rock melon balls
  • Make traffic-light eggs by slicing capsicum horizontally and cracking an egg in

I recently came across Jacob’s Food Diaries, which is a really amazing inspiration for parents! The Melbourne mum Laleh started making these amazing creations to make healthy food fun for her son Jacob. I think it’s a great example of how we can create a positive relationship between children and food.

 

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Source: Jacob’s Food Diaries Facebook Page

This may look all a bit too much for busy mums, but sometimes just adding a bit of colour to your child’s food can make a big difference!

-R.L.

Tip #2: Try, try & try again

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It’s the 4th time your kid has rejected the broccoli

So, you conclude it’s a ‘disliked’ food and stop serving it.

However, research shows that it takes children over a dozen exposures to a certain food before they begin to accept and maybe like it.

 

“A child should aim to try something 10-15 times, without the pressure to eat it.

-Dr. Powell

 

IMPROVES HEART HEALTH (1).jpgYou can imagine this as meeting a new person. You wouldn’t call them your friend or best friend before you get to know them.

It would probably take at least a few weeks for you observe whether this person would be a suitable friend, and then a few years before they become your best friend.

Kids also need to get to know their food, and this takes TIME.

 

So what can you do?

Try, try & try again

They might reject it the first 5 times

Spit it out the next 5 times

Eat one bite the next 5 times….

then at the 20th time, they might just surprise you by saying

THEY LIKE IT!

So don’t give up trying. Find different ways of exposing children to new foods

Check out the infographic for some extra tips.

You can look to the recipes section on my site for some fun ideas!

 

-R.L.

Can sugar make your ‘picky’ eater stay picky?

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Short answer. Yes!

WHY?

Sugar can affect taste buds¹Tips to Reduce Sugar in your Child’s Diet (2).jpg

When children consume too much sugar on a daily basis, they crave more sweet foods and will be more resistant to healthier alternatives that are low in sugar.

Research shows that picky eaters eat over 50 grams of sugar per day! That’s over 12 teaspoons of sugar!

Do I need to ban everything that has sugar?

No. We support EVERYTHING IN MODERATION, so if your kid goes to a birthday party, they should by all means enjoy the cake without any guilt.

In fact, banning something can actually increase their crave for it. Food guilt is also not good for healthy relationships with food.

What’s important is that they establish a good foundation of eating habits. If your child generally enjoys nutritious foods low in sugar, they will be unlikely to indulge as much sugar as their peers, because it will be too much for them!

 

But my kid doesn’t like fruit & veg…

That’s OK. You can start by taking baby steps and creating that pressure-free eating environment. You can also refer to the infographic for some quick tips!

If your child is currently hooked onto sugary drinks, why not try diluting it with water first and gradually taking it out of their normal diet.

You can also educate your child on sugar by challenging them to identify the amount of sugar in supermarket cereals and finding the one with the least sugar. Children always learn better when they’re having fun!

Do you have any other tips to share? 

-R.L.

 


¹ Laura Kopec ‘My Kid’s a Picky Eater: Twelve Secrets to Changing Your Child’s Eating Habit

What is Pressure?

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With all the media on about increasing obesity, malnutrition and sugar addictions people-163906_1280.jpgamong children, it’s hard  not to get anxious about our children’s diet. However, our little ones are very observant and can easily be influenced by our emotions.

Sometimes, parents can unconsciously put pressure on children, and it’s not just when we punish them. Pressure can be felt when other people make a big deal out of what you eat.

Impact of pressure on kids:

  • Poor relationship with food and meal time
  • Decreasing appetite
  • Increasing resistance to new food
  • Establishing link between food and reward
  • Messes up internal cues for appetite, leading to over or under-eating

Step into your kid’s shoes: Think of a food you really don’t like. 

For me, it’s oranges.

orange-cartoon-clipart-1.jpg (yes…don’t judge)

Now imagine if your husband got really angry with you for not eating it. He tells you It’s full of fiber and really good for you. Then he asks you to take a bite….just ONE bite. You’re probably feeling bad enough already, and you know from your heart that you don’t want to try it.

He sees you’re still not convinced, she says he’ll make you your favourite chocolate-cake-with-no-candles-hi.pngchocolate cake tomorrow if you try it.

You love chocolate cake, but you REALLY don’t like oranges.

Now, you’re probably feeling angry that he’s forcing you and not understanding you.

This is exactly how kids feel when they are repeatedly told in many different ways to eat something they don’t want. They feel sad that their parents are getting angry over what they eat, but their body tells them they do not what to try something.

How can we identify traces of pressure?

Lets look at some examples:

  • Bribing:”If you eat your carrots, I’ll let you eat a piece of chocolate after dinner”
  • Praising: “Yay, you took a bite!”
  • Emphasizing nutritional value: “Beetroot is really good for you”
  • Punishment: “You didn’t finish your veggies, so no TV tonight”
  • Reward: “I’ll take you to the park for trying the pasta”
  • Talking about it in front of others: “She’s really fussy about food and won’t eat what I cook”

The main takeaway is that we don’t want to make eating a big deal. While encouragement is good, you don’t want kids to eat just because they want to buy a toy or watch TV. What you DO want to do it create an open environment where your child can try out new foods at their own pace, WITHOUT being in the spotlight.

I’ll be talking about what you CAN do instead in later posts, so stay tuned!

Raising Healthy Eaters talks about this in a lot more detail if you want to read on.

-R.L.