- I can only get my child to eat peas from a tin
- My child will only eat food covered in red sauce
- I’m sick of trying to chase my child around the house with a fork of steamed broccoli
Any of these problems sound familiar?
I remember the days well, when as a child, I would hide behind the green velvet curtains in the lounge thinking my mum would never find me, while she chased me around the house with a spoonful of cold porridge. I was what most would consider a nightmare eater! Still can’t eat hot porridge now though, I think I’m mentally scarred – maybe more from the curtains, than the porridge, who knows!
Many children are what we would call ‘picky eaters’. In fact, I predominantly work with many adults who I would also fit into this label!
Psychologists have a field-day with identifying the many disorders and psychological issues associated with food, and the emotions attached to eating.
As most people would contest however, I am all about trying to find the most ‘simple of solutions’ when it comes to eating.
So, before you check your child in to see the men with the white coats, try adding a few of the below suggestions into meal plans – remember when we look at anything food related, we seek progress not perfection.
Problem: The only vegetable my child will eat are peas from a tin
There is nothing wrong with eating food from a tin. Processed foods have been given a bad rep over the most recent clean eaters patch, but what we know about the preservation of food these days may actually surprise you. Some tinned foods actually have more vitamins and minerals than their fresher counter parts (check out James Wong and his research on tinned tomatoes), and we all should know by now, that many organic foods have proven to have little to no extra nutritional benefit, when compared with their non-organic opponents.
Don’t get hung up on the morality or pressure of having to eat ‘fresh everything’ – peas from a tin have some great nutritional value, frozen peas are also a great source of fibre, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B1, iron and zinc. For a little extra nutritional bang for your buck- try blitzing SuperSlaw and mixing it in with the peas. The finer you chop the veggies the less they will notice what’s in it. If you think they will turn their nose up at this, make them part of the blitzing process, take it from me, all kids enjoy holding that food processor button down -especially when it makes so much noise!
Problem: My child will only eat healthy food covered in sauce
I can relate to this well as I have been known to be a bit of a sauce lover myself! Now I’m not advocating covering all your food in sugar riddled sauce, but let’s keep things in perspective here. If your child is eating veggies in sauce, take some solace firstly that they are eating their veggies in the first place!
Look at the labels of sauce and go for the lower sugar options where possible. Don’t be fooled that expensive is always better, sometimes cheaper or more well known brands have more availability for lower sugar or lower salt options. Check to see if sugar is the first ingredient. If it is, you know that most of the contents of the bottle is not probably what you would want your child to have before going to bed! If they are stuck on eating a particular brand, start to slowly dilute this over time without them seeing. This may take a little experimentation but you can mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Greek yoghurt, or even half and half with a lower sugar option, into some sauces without altering their taste or texture too much. Pre-mix them into a jar and sneak it over their veggies without them seeing. This is pretty much what I do with SuperSlaw recipes for adults, where mustard, horseradish, apple sauce or cranberry are all mixed into a dressing in smaller amounts. That way you still get the taste but not all the sugar!
Problem: I’m sick of trying to chase my child around the house with a fork of steamed broccoli
Ok so firstly I’m going to say well done for the perseverance and for increasing your step intake each day with the chase! On a serious note though, we need to remember how it feels to be a child again and fundamentally the battle of wills that goes on with adults who try and force something on us.
Take into account that a child has to taste something up to 15 + times before they will decide if they truly like it (this figure seems to alter pending what age the food is introduced) so persistence works, but take it easy before you ram the fork down their throat.
Try adding in veggies in less obvious ways – stuffing veggies into meatballs, blitzing the veggies down with a food processor, or by turning the veggies into more well known and liked meals. My Pizza SuperSlaw is a winner with children. Why? Because it tastes like pizza, little do the kids know that half the pizza flavour is coming from the veggie mass they have been eating, topped with their favourite cheese.
Try and incorporate a rainbow of colours instead of just green. Green veggies rock of course, but some studies even suggest a primal and innate response in earlier years that rejects the colour based on poisonous plants being green, so try and remember that there are a huge range of other foods that contain high levels of nutrients. A varied colour resume of veggies is a really good option, fruit is of course a secondary option, but protein (meat, fish, eggs, sweet potato, anything with natural colour) will also provide key vital nutrients for growth and repair.
For more information on how to make easy and simple nutritional changes by ‘Blitzing your way to five a day’- check out the recipes in my book : https://www.superslaw.co.uk
Fitness Expert & Personal Trainer