Guest post from Sharon from Emondo Kids
Do you have a fussy eater? You are not alone! As food waste is one of the biggest issues we face in terms of our plant and global warming, it is important to try to plan to reduce food waste in the first place. Feeding your fussy eater three square meals day in day out is tough. It’s not fun. It’s not empowering and it’s certainly not as engaging as hosting a well crafted dinner party for your nearest and dearest. Even on those rare occasions when you think you have had a win and the plate is near enough to empty, the vast amounts of evidence scattered in a 360 degree radius, reminds you of your “successful” navigation through lunch. Winning!
The kitchen is a mess, you now have to transition into your third change of clothes for the day, as well as their fourth! Look, you missed a bit of sauce on the underside of the dining lamp shade…..how the hell did that get there? Perhaps most importantly is the copious amount of food that ends up wasted. ..Every day feels like a conveyor belt from fridge to bin, just watching quality food – and dollars, slip straight through your hands and into landfill.
But as parents that’s just what is done right? Provide the best possible food at appropriate intervals and pray that some of it makes its way into those hungry little tummies of theirs. If the plate comes back empty, we do a little happy dance….and then start the cleanup! If not, then acknowledge a battle well fought, lament your losses, start the decontamination process and prepare for dinner. Oh and lets not forget the wastage.
How about we shake things up a bit? Bend the rules a little. Let our hair down……ok enough cliches. Seriously though, all of us parents work our bums off to look after our loved ones, and we deserve to chalk up a few wins occasionally. And feel damn good about it too!
Below are a few very basic tips to help you and your fussy little one change the way meal times are perceived in your house.
- Talk about food outside of designated meal times: Try discussing food and cooking as part of your daily interaction with your children. Depending on their age you can talk about things like how food is grown, how it ends up on their plate and how it affects their body. For the younger ones try some flashcards with pictures of fruit and veggies. Don’t switch it off once dinner arrives through. Get them thinking about food from different perspectives.
- Keep grazing to a minimum: How often do we here “oh my child is a grazer”. If you keep putting put food in front of them all day, of course they are going to eat it. So when it comes to dinner time and a barely touched plate, they genuinely just might not be hungry. If you want the plate empty at night, have a go at restraining from the snacks throughout the day. This goes for flavoured liquids as well. Yes its hard, but hey, so is the alternative.
- Change the setting: Routines are obviously a necessary part of raising children. There’s no denying that. But that doesn’t mean we can’t change things up occasionally. How about trying a change of scenery for your next meal? If the weather’s fine, take lunch outside and have picnic. Have dinner under the table instead of on top! Your fussy eater will be so stoked that you are creating something fun for them, the trauma of eating yucky dinner will be a complete afterthought.
- Don’t overload them with a particular food just because you want them to eat it: If there was a food you particularly didn’t enjoy, what would be worse than seeing a big pile of it served to for lunch and then again on your dinner plate. (I was imagining the Jaws theme whilst writing that!). Kids are the same. Don’t force food on them just because it’s healthy. Certainly persist, but offer small servings on alternate days. Incorporate items in different flavour combinations. And don’t forget to talk about it with them.
With a few tweaks and hacks to the daily routine, meal times will become a more pleasurable and less frustrating experience for you and your fussy eater. After all, we gotta do this every day. Oh and let’s not forget about the wastage.