Hello parents of picky eaters. How many meals have you prepared today, only to clear them off the floors and walls, I wonder?
Nearly 10 years ago I received my diploma in child development and since then I have had many, many conversations with parents of picky eaters. They always went the same way: parents shared their concerns that their child didn’t eat very much, and I would reassure them that their child was doing great and the latest research showed that children usually ate what they needed.
For years I never really got why parents were so uptight about it. Just give them healthy options and leave them to it. It’s that simple, right?
To persistently, patiently, creatively, lovingly, calmly and joyfully present a child with food 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 times a day, every day, and to have them throw it at you every single time is soul destroying. I get that now, I truly do.
Some kids are fussy eaters and are really picky about only eating certain things. Others are non-eaters, just really not interested in eating much at all. My daughter falls into the non-eating category. She has been known to refuse bottles of breast milk and all food, other than a few raisins, from dawn to dusk when I’ve been away from her. The girl just ain’t that into food, and it can be frustrating and at times worrying.
Of course, the research remains the same: children will usually eat what they need when given healthy options. But even knowing this on a cognitive level, doesn’t make it any easier for the person responsible for their well-being to have to watch them refuse food over and over again.
We have weaned Seren onto food through the practice of baby led weaning (BLW). I am a huge fan of BLW, mainly for the ease of it. Rather than spend a lot of time steaming vegetables and making purees like in traditional weaning, once babies are over 6 months you simply allow them to help themselves to whatever food you are having, provided there isn’t too much salt in it (you would probably also choose for the food to not have too much sugar or spice in either, certainly initially).
BLW has many benefits, including allowing a baby to control the movement of food around their mouth so they have less of a risk of choking on foods.
It also provides them with stimulation and a chance to practice their fine motor skills such as pincer grab, and bringing food to their mouth.
It can also make children less inclined to be fussy eaters, as they have always been able to control what they eat.
One of the great things about BLW is how it focuses on ‘food is for fun for the first year’, which is now the official policy for weaning babies. Breast milk (or formula) is recommended to remain as the main source of nutrition and calories for a baby up to being one year old.
So for the first 6 months of weaning Seren, we enjoyed a relaxed stress-free weaning journey. Yes, occasionally it used to irritate me when I spent a long time making her delicious healthy foods that invariably ended up on the floor. But I wasn’t concerned about her nutrition input, trusting my breast milk to give her everything she needed. However, as her first birthday came and went without her interest in food picking up at all, I began to take her nutrition more seriously.
My simple but effective tactic now is to cram in as many nutrients, calories, fats and proteins into as small a portion as I can, so what she’s eating is as nutritionally dense as possible.
I can honestly say I feel so grateful for working for such an amazing company as it has allowed me access to their fantastic nutrition range, which I’ve all but become obsessed with. What I love about the Arbonne nutrition range is it is botanically based; 100% vegan; nutrient dense; full of phytonutrients; dairy, gluten and soya free and a premium, high quality blend of vitamins and minerals. I use their products, as well as others, to ‘boost’ our family’s meals.
The photo above shows an example of my daughter’s breakfast. On top of oat or rice porridge I added Arbonne Essentials Daily Protein Boost to provide plant-based protein; Arbonne Essentials Greens Balance to provide vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables across the rainbow; soaked overnight chia seeds for Omega 3, calcium and fibre; baobab powder for Vitamin C; a blend of Omega 3 oil from different seeds; and molasses for iron.
I add these kinds of ingredients to at least one of her meals a day, be it pancakes, smoothies, yogurt or cereal. This way I know that even if she doesn’t eat a lot, what she is eating is jam-packed full of goodness!
The reality is that some kids just don’t eat a lot. So, based on my professional and personal experience, here are my top 5 tips for parents of picky eaters:
- Be a good role model. Your child is never going to be convinced to eat their broccoli if they’re watching you dip hobnobs into a cup of tea. Role model healthy, adventurous eating habits. The simplest way to do this is eat your meals together and all eat the same thing.
- Don’t wage war. No matter how stressed you get (and no one’s saying it isn’t stressful!) do NOT start making dinner time a battle ground. Eating is not just a physical experience, it is a social and emotional one too. The last thing you want to do is create negative associations for your child around food.
- Boost foods. Invest in some good quality boosters. You can get them from me through the link at the bottom of this article, or from local health food shops. Use these in at least one of your meals per day to give you peace of mind that your child getting as much goodness as possible out of what they are eating.
- Make it fun. Meal times should be enjoyable! Eat together, chat about your day, share jokes and stories, and enjoy the experience together as a family.
- Include children. Children love being involved in tasks. Ask children of all ages to help prepare, serve or even grow parts of the meal!
To purchase your own pure, safe and beneficial nutrition products follow the link below. For any guidance or assistance message me directly, I am always happy to help!