Kids can be very fussy eaters. Despite what some parents will say everyone’s kids have their moments. There will always be a parent at the school gate saying their wonderful child eats anything and everything, but they are probably being a bit generous with the truth. Fussiness also goes in phases and at 5 your child might eat lots of things and at 6 they turn their nose up at anything other than pasta. It’s all very normal but it can be challenging and a worry when it comes to making sure they eat well. Here are some ideas and benefits to helping your child try new things and hopefully develop a board pallet.
Are You Fussy?
The first barrier to having a child who has a very healthy relationship with food is fussy parents. It can be really hard because many kids brought up in the 70s and 80s were forced to finish meals and may have some issues with it. But if you are the kind of parent that orders a plain burger with nothing on it at all from an artisan burger shack then you might just qualify as a bit fussy. Its fine but its important to try and mask it as much as possible in order to help your child or children try new things. So much of what we do as parent rubs off on our little ones and this is quite an easy one to avoid.
Why Is a broad Diet Good?
Generally, because a balanced diet means just that; a diet filled with a wide range of different things in balanced amounts. So, eating only Broccoli while not as bad as eating only sweets isn’t ideal. Its about range and depth. There are also some amazing health benefits found in more exotic foods like Curry for example. Almara Miah from Zari in Crawley says
“traditional Indian spices like turmeric have wide ranging health benefits as well as cumin and many more.”
It is well documented that these kinds of spices can have a range of positive properties that support immunity, brain function, have anti-inflammatory properties and more. Cumin is reported to help with cholesterol and be an anti-oxidant. Parents are often battered by marketing telling them this supplement will do this and this drink will help gut bacteria etc but there are many common spices and herbs we use in amazing food that do far more without all the packaging and cost.
But there is another factor and that’s being brave, learning to try things and taking pleasure from different sensations. We want our kids to try lots of different sports, music, toys, classes etc so we should try and think of food as yet another of life’s great experiences.
What Types of Meals?
Well, the choice is enormous! But we all know most kids love pasta so thinking outside that safety zone is useful. Mexican food can be loads of fun and contains lovely things like coriander and cumin as well as beans and pulses that are super healthy and filling. Indian food as we have mentioned is full of flavours and colours and lots of good things. Chinese cuisine can be a great way to introduce crunchy veg with tonnes of flavour and chop sticks never fail to make mealtimes fun! Sushi is fun to make and to eat and again, has lots of goodness from raw veg to oily fish and more. The key is to think colour, flavour and fun!
How Do I Get Them to Try It?
This is the hard part. We know there are benefits to a child future relationship with food, we know there are health benefits and it also means the grown-ups get to eat nicer food too but its harder than just offering it to a child. One key way to get them engaged is to get them to cook it with you. The sense of pride a child has when they have helped make a grown-up meal might just give them the confidence to try something new. Sometimes even if they don’t love it, they will give it a go because the took ownership of its creation. Then it’s a case of heaping praise onto them for trying something exciting. Another slightly less healthy way is to order a good quality takeaway and let them get involved in choosing. Google meal names, help the, choose and get them fired up by looking out the window for the driver. Not a long-term solution but twice a month a child might try two new flavours and that cant be bad.
Make Food Positive
Ultimately the goal here is to make foo positive, even bad foods as a treat. Food should be a pleasure for kids just like it is for adults. When food is fun kids will try more things and when they do that, they can find things they love and get all the benefits. Remember, it changes with age so don’t write off a Korma forever just because they didn’t like it when they were 4! Keep returning back every year or so and watch them slowly learn to love lots of fun foods! And when we can go on holiday again, they might just surprise you by ordering a local delicacy before you do!