As a parent there is nothing more frustrating that spending my very limited time preparing food for my children only to have it thrown back in my face – literally. Fortunately I’ve passed the food throwing phase now but I still get the all too often whine about how they don’t like the food in front of them but I remember those toddler tantrums with horror. Picky eaters… there’s NOTHING more frustrating!
Every parent or caregiver has experienced it at one time or another: a young child refusing to eat or insisting on eating only certain foods.
Although childhood days are often marked by phases of fussiness and tantrums, it’s important to realise that you might be dealing with a picky eater if mealtimes are when most of these arguments occur.
Knowing the signs
Typical picky or fussy eating behaviour include: refusing to eat, eating less than usual, a dislike for vegetables, fruit, meat or milk, demanding the same food at every meal, preferring ‘junk food’ to healthy food, and throwing tantrums at mealtimes.
These behaviours can surprise and trouble parents who want to ensure healthy eating habits!
And rightly so, since picky eating may cause: weight loss, stunted growth, lack of vital nutrients, greater risk of infection, failure to thrive with poor cognitive development, learning disabilities and developmental delays.
10 Tips for raising a child who eats well
Here are a few ways to teach children healthy eating habits that will last them a lifetime:
- Manage mealtimes by establishing set meal and snack times.
- Help your child to choose healthy foods by making the right foods available to them.
- Make mealtime family time by letting all family members sit together and eat the same meals.
- Avoid television and other distractions that may lead to a disinterest in food.
- Learn to understand your child’s hunger signals.
- Consistently offer new healthy foods but introduce one new food at a time instead of serving a completely new meal.
- Serve small portion sizes when introducing new foods and gradually move on to bigger portions.
- Resist the urge to give your child sweets and fried foods to encourage them to eat.
- Look for fun, creative ways to educate your child about the benefits of healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
- Encourage self-respect and self-acceptance and never criticize your child’s body type.
By following these steps and setting a good example when it comes to our own eating habits, we can ensure that our children enjoy a stress-free relationship with food over the long-term!
For more information about picky eating and how to deal with picky eaters visit www.pickyeating.co.za or the PediaSure Facebook Page.
This post is sponsored by PediaSure®Complete. The comments on this page do not constitute medical advice. Your healthcare professional is best placed to evaluate your child’s growth and development. Should you have any concerns or questions, please seek advice from your healthcare professional? For product-related questions, contact the Abbott Nutrition Support Line on 0861 22 68 87.