Is your kiddo a fussy eater?
Most parents will be all too familiar with the strain of dealing with a child who refuses to eat what’s been served up on their plates during meal times – AKA. “The Fussy Eater”.
It is entirely normal for a child to refuse to eat, or even try, new foods. However, the worry regarding whether or not children are consuming sufficient calories or nutrients can be extremely concerning.
Often, parents may be stuck in a rut of offering the same meals week in, week out, even when health specialists recommend introducing new foods and new ways of serving them to pique their interest.
As part of their new study looking into the most favoured condiments of the world, the personal finance experts at money.co.uk have analysed 43 condiments alongside 55 brands from around the world to reveal which are the most popular (based on search data) in 35 of the world’s wealthiest countries.
In addition to this, the money.co.uk team have also compiled the following tips on ways to liven up everyday meals for children.
Hopefully, the introduction of some unique new flavour combinations and eating habits will get your child excited about food again!
Offer up ‘taster’ plates to tempt them with
Sometimes the amount of food dished up in front of a child can be a little overwhelming, especially if they aren’t particularly hungry or feeling tired from a long day at school.
This is when introducing a ‘taster’ plate, consisting of a range of different foods and flavours to entice them with, can make for a brilliant dinner option.
The beauty of a taster plate is that you can add in elements of snacks and meals you know they will already eat and enjoy. You can then sneak in extra ‘wild card’ options that they won’t feel as threatened by amidst the sense of familiarity.
Try arranging your ‘taster’ plate so that the new additions are hidden in between the staple favourites. Ensure there is a bright mix of colours and sweet vs savoury options. This will keep your often fussy eater interested and curious to explore the options.
Help kids understand different world cuisines
Giving children early exposure to the cuisines of different countries around the world when they are still young is a great way to ensure they remain excited about the prospect of trying new, unique flavours as taste buds develop.
Instead of making their sandwiches with everyday sliced bread, introduce tortilla wraps, pitta breads and chapatis to their lunch boxes.
You can still use their favourite fillings, to see how well they respond to the simple swap.
Is your child typically accustomed to finding apples, oranges and bananas in their lunch boxes?
If the answer is yes, then the introduction of equally as delicious but more tropical flavours. Papaya, guava and mangoes, could work really well in helping them enjoy a wider variety of fruits.
Finally, don’t be afraid of using small amounts of strong flavours in kids meals to introduce them to different cuisines to see how they react. You might be pleasantly surprised!
A fussy eater is used to sticking to what they are used to, so this introduction could be a game-changer!
- Soy sauce should be added to vegetable sushi
- A mild curry paste will make any curry pop
- The addition of hummus on the side of chopped up vegetables or toast soldiers could completely change their view of afternoon snacks.
Explore different textures
Fussy eating and the refusal to eat a particular meal or food is, more often than not, more likely due to the texture rather than the flavour.
It is therefore a smart idea to keep an open mind and continue to offer the same foods repeatedly but prepared in slightly alternative or unique ways.
For example, finely chopping nutritious vegetables (such as broccoli, kale, courgette, peppers and mushrooms) then cooking them into thick, tomato-based pasta sauces or creamy soups is a great way to ensure kids are eating their 5 A Day without realising it.
Using freezer moulds to create homemade fruit and yoghurt ice lollies is another excellent way to sneak some healthy options into a summer treat.
Expand on their existing favourites
Don’t be afraid to use a little flavour bribery when it comes to introducing new foods.
If you know your little one is already a fan of chocolate spread, jam or honey, just add a small amount to their morning porridge or toast. This could help you ensure they start their day off properly.
Similarly, if you know certain dishes tend to go down well at dinner time, re-work how the meals are made. Offer up new flavour combinations and ingredients that still look familiar.
For example, pork sausage and mashed potatoes could become healthier chicken sausages and celeriac mash. Pepperoni pizza and chips could be given a twist with the introduction of homemade ‘pizza crumpets’ and some sweet potato wedges.
Organise a ‘dinner party’ with their friends
Children are natural followers and are wired to copy and replicate the behaviours and mannerisms that they witness in others.
It is important for a fussy eater to see their parents and siblings eating a variety of different foods at the dinner table each mealtime. However, it is also wise to show your child that their friends and school peers are trying a diverse range of flavours and cuisines.
This shows them that eating a variety of foods is a normal and accepted part of life.
A great way to encourage this would be to organise a dinner party or picnic with some similarly aged friends. Ask other parents to each bring a plentiful selection of different foods or snacks. The children can happily snack on them, and see each other enjoying and partaking in a shared eating experience.