This post was written in collaboration with Supersavvyme.
If your children can’t resist snacking between meals or just can’t bear to eat without slathering their food in tomato ketchup, you’re not alone. Young picky eaters are common in households all over the country, not helped by the availability of fast food and those occasions where you don’t have a say on what your children are eating.
If you want to wean your kids away from unhealthy food and encourage them to improve their diet, take a look at these top tips.
Provide lots of options . . .
. . . but make all of them healthy. When encouraged to sample a number of different tastes and textures, your kids are a lot more likely to find something good for them that they like to eat. Try to venture outside of your comfort zone when planning your family meals, and build unusual flavours like olives and oily fish into your dishes. Don’t be afraid to offer them tasty salads or sophisticated dishes like mushroom stroganoff - you might be surprised at what they’ll actually eat when pressed.
Mix the conventional with the unconventional
Trying to get your kids to eat spinach? Put it on a pizza. Experiment with olive breads, or mushroom and tomato sauce on pasta. An excellent way to get your kids interested in new things is to get them to help you cook it. There’s some easy recipes out there that you can do as a family, and if your children have seen how something is made, they are much more likely to eat it later on. Cut vegetables into different shapes, use different crockery – anything you can to make trying new things feel cool and exciting. Don’t worry about cleaning up after them – there’s plenty of money off coupons out there to help you stock up on everything from washing up liquid to dishwasher tablets.
Introduce new things gradually
It might seem like a pain, but introducing “problem foods” into a child’s diet is made a lot easier if you have a blender. Pureeing mushrooms, onions, olives, anchovies – or anything else for that matter – means that you can introduce sophisticated tastes to your children without overwhelming them with the texture, shape or colour. You can then start to finely chop, loosely chop and eventually serve the foodstuff as normal as it slowly becomes part of their diet.
Reward your kids for eating like a grown-up
You can reward your children for trying new things in a number of ways – if they finish their meal or try something new, offer them a treat as a reward. It might feel like bribery, but positive rather than negative reinforcement has been proven to be much more effective at encouraging children to act in a certain way – the odd scoop of ice-cream can work wonders for regulating your child’s eating habits.