By Simone Emery
As a children’s nutritionist, I can understand a desire to boost Vitamin A, E, C and Omega Fatty Acids in a child’s diet to boost their immune system, especially relating to fighting the cold and flu symptoms associated with COVID-19. Yet, when parents have fussy eaters, these “nutrient prescriptions” can be very overwhelming. Parents can feel stressed and isolated with this approach to nutrition. “How am I ever going to get them to eat that?”
So, instead of focusing on “getting” your child to eat. Let’s look at some tips that will reduce stress and help children start to enjoy a wider range of healthy foods.
1. Be mindful of the long-term goal of nutrition
We hope to raise children that eat foods that nourish their body in social gatherings to achieve a state of satiety. Hence, befriending food is important. A positive relationship with food flows onto a great sense of body confidence too.
2. Family style serve and the value of exposure
Often, I mention how effective serving food deconstructed in the middle of the table is for children and give the obvious example of Taco Tuesday. Parents generally say, “Oh yeah, when we have a casual meal like that, the kids always eat better!” So, why not make all meals “family style”? A family style serve where the parents/caregivers offer the food in the middle of the table and the children decide how much to take? It is a brilliant practice to help children make friends with food. They can make friends with vitamin A-loaded sweet potato by seeing it in the middle of the table, more than if they are being thrust a forkful and being asked to “just take a bite”.