Could you please guide me as to how I can deal with my child’s fussy- eating? She is 4 years old and refuses to eat things that I make. She is very fond of eating junk food like chips and pizzas but never can eat a wholesome meal. I try to feed her while watching TV because that’s the only time she won’t reject anything on her plate. I suppose this eating pattern is not healthy. Please could you suggest something for this?
It is normal for children to stick to eating only the foods they are most familiar with; looks like your daughter has chosen to stick to chips and pizzas. Well, children’s eating patterns can be changed through persistent and novel efforts.
1. Try offering her favourite food, made at home with healthier nutrients for example, potato chips made at home. You could make pizza out of a whole wheat base topped with greens and any other cheese. Offer other tasty add-ons like spinach ‘pakoras’, brinjal-crispies, etc. There is a wide variety of ways in which we can cook healthy foods without making them bland and non tasty.
2. Also, practice your garnishing skills if you are not already doing so. A dash of sauce, a sprinkle of coriander leaves and coconut powder, a slice of lemon work very well with children as they do with adults! So don’t hesitate to make home cooked dishes look appealing. That’s the trick they use in the biggest of hotels!
3. Fix up the menu with your daughter as she grows older to set her schedule of eating and give clarity both to you and her. Give her a wide option menu, which you would need to prepare before hand. As guidelines, you could use the time schedule module, like: Breakfast dishes, Lunch options, Evening snack, and Dinner menu.
4. Encourage her to eat salads and fruits. Introduce her to various types of fruits, soups and juices and let her eat the ones she likes. Put up her nutrition chart in her room to let her know how many vitamins she has eaten on any day. You have to explain this concept to her creatively, probably in story form.
5. You could also put a height scale and a weighing machine in her room to make her aware of the ideal height and weight she can attain if she eats and drinks right. These are self motivators.
6. Also, we must role model healthy eating as well. We can’t go out having all the junk food and expect our children to have salad. Getting it? It is an exercise of healthy eating for the entire family.
“Doing what you preach is a universal principle of good parenting- tough but very rewarding principle.”
So don’t worry and keep trying. Patience, a little creativity and persistence are the key factors in dealing with fussy eating.