Monday, February 25, 2013

15 Ways to cure a fussy eater

Fussy picky eaters in your home? Oh and by the way they don't have to be toddlers to be fussy - I know LOTS of fussy eaters ranging from toddlers to adults.
What are fussy eaters you ask?  

Silly question I know but you may have become so used to this way of life that you think the grazers in your family with their likes and dislikes are pretty normal.  Here would be some very simple indicators that you have a fussy eater in your home:
*  they pull up their nose at the mention of certain foods
*  they hide their peas under their gem squash skins(or equally ingenious ideas)
*  they "accidentally" drop the offending food on the floor, or tell you the cat took it, or the dog - or the bird next door...
*   gagging (oh yes they can be very good at acting as most mothers will immediately remove the offending food away just at the thought of this one - oh come on be honest, so would you!)
*  they have a list of things they do or don't eat, or how they do or don't like to eat it - they sound like they are ordering food at a restaurant

How to get your picky eater to eat is not usually the problem.  If they were surrounded by their favourite foods, they would be quite content to eat all day - the problem is that they don't want to eat the healthy stuff, or the wholesome stuff or the unidentified floating stuff...

And to get picky eaters to eat certain foods requires strategy and planning:

1.  Camouflage
Hide them, the army does it through the clothes they wear, we do it with the make up we put on our face - simple camouflage works wonders!  Put some of those green things with the other green things that they DO eat and hopefully they won't see them.

2.  Cloak and Dagger
Hide them under sauce.  In our house white sauce with cheese is a sure winner.  They love the stuff on top so much they often don't notice what's at the bottom until it's too late.

3.  Nuke it
Blend those babies!  I don't care what it is - if you blend it they won't even know what they are.  Sometimes its more important to get those vital nutrients and vitamins into their system.

4.  Close ranks
Don't let your fussy eater, eat snacks before meals - I have seen some of my children have a look to see what's for dinner, decide it's not their favourite, promptly eat 3 apples and 2 slices of bread and then tell me that they are not really hungry.  Yeah right!

5.  Put on a Show
Make faces with fruit, dig tunnels in rice, make castles with peas and mash potatoes. Dressing up the food, like they have never seen before, will have them rethink some of the foods they always thought looked Yucky!  You may think this is only for children but how you present your food can often determine how people view what it will taste like.  Do you blanch your vegetables or do you boil them until the beans go grey and the peas look all withered, the cauliflower looks brown and the broccoli looks wilted.  Get some cooking skills:)
6.  As head honcho you need to lead the way
Oh yes you too! You can't expect your children to eat food that you conveniently leave off your plate.  They see, they take note and boy do they have ammunition.

7.  Leave Ethiopia out of it
Telling your children about starving children somewhere else will not produce any lasting effect.  But letting them miss a meal so they understand what it's like to be really hungry - might change their perspective.   I often tell my children that when they are fussy they are not hungry enough, because when you are hungry even a plain piece of bread tastes like a slice of heaven.

8.  Make sure it's not the enemy
Our bodies have natural defense mechanisms in place to protect it and sometimes the aversion to a specific type of food can also be related to their bodies just shouting NO!

9.  It's all about team
When everyone else is eating something, it's easy to follow suit, especially for a toddler who has never seen something before but if it looks like everyone is happy and eating, it's a lot easier to be a little more adventurous.

10.  The Sound of Music
My children do chores, some days they love it, sometimes they don't but put on some music and they hum happily along and will do it without a single complaint.  Get some sing a long tunes on vegetables or by vegetables - like VegeTales.  You could even get them to watch the DVD - look this might not be a stand-alone-I-will-eat-anything-you-put-before-me-moment but it's all about reinforcing a common theme.

11.  Try Try Try
They say (not sure who THEY are - but they say nonetheless) that a person needs to be exposed to something up to 7 times before they acquire a taste for something. Just think back to when you were a child - there were probably things that you didn't like then that you really like now - I can think of a few myself: olives, beetroot, mature cheddar, green peppers, sardines.  But somehow that can all change in a moment - it could be the 5th time of the 7th time or the 1st time.  Don't give up.
12.  Sshhhh!  Keep it a secret
Don't announce to your picky eater, you have a new food for them to try, and then followed by the words "I'm not sure if you 'll like it but give it a try!" You are setting yourself up for disaster.  Even I would be wondering what taste defying object you were about to give me - like the day I asked my sister to check if the watermelon was over ripe and she did.... let's just say, she has never forgiven me and always reminds me of this day.

13.  Let them cook/ create or make
I remember trying to convince my children to eat salad - just plain, regular lettuce, tomato and cucumber - but for some reason they were just not interested.  Until one day I put our pita breads, and each of the children were allowed to fill their pitas with a variety of fillings - from cheese, to salad, to bits of meat.  Before I knew it they were eating salads to my utter joy and they have never turned back.  I also find that when I let them cook they almost seem to eat twice as much, just because they did it!

14.  The Reason for the Season
Sometimes we go off food because we've had too much of it.  Imagine eating 4 bananas at home, going to someone else's house and being offered a banana dessert. Yum Yum - NOT!  We need to be careful of not feeding our children too much of the same types of food all the time, otherwise they will be put off.  Try to vary the type of food, and also how it's prepared.

15.  Stand your ground
Be sure that this is not a power struggle.  Don't allow yourself to manipulated.  I firmly believe in children being taught to eat what is put them.  Fussiness is rude and especially when  you are a guest at someone else's house.  To receive a long list of what they do and don't eat might ensure that you don't get invited back. (enough said)

Now you have some of the ways I have dealt with my children.  Of course they will always test me, and sometimes I get a little fussy myself - just ask my husband. But eventually if you persevere you can achieve greatness:0

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