5 tips to help your child overcome picky eating

September 08, 2017
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    Most children have very fixed tastes, much to the annoyance of their parents! The chances are yours is no exception.

    So, you face a big challenge when it comes to introducing more exotic types of food to her diet, such as sushi and salad.

    Although you might think such dishes are appetising and interesting, your kid is likely to push the food away without even tasting it.

    She likes what she knows; and what she doesn’t know, she probably isn’t willing to try initially.

    Bear in mind also that no matter how much you’d like her to be more adventurous in her tastes, you can’t force her to eat.

    Irrespective of the pressure you put on her, she has to make the choice to eat. You need to engage her cooperation, or unfamiliar food will never pass her lips.

    That’s why you should avoid threatening your child when she won’t eat the food you have prepared.

    Arguments make everyone tense and anxious, and this further reduces her appetite for unusual meals.

    Stay calm, be patient and allow plenty of time for her to eat. The less stress associated with the introduction of new tastes, the better.

    Here are more suggestions for encouraging your child to enjoy different types of food.

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  • Introduce small amounts at a time
    2 / 6 Introduce small amounts at a time

    The sight of a plate full of food that she has never seen or tasted may kill her appetite completely.

    You know the meal is tasty, but your five-year-old doesn’t know that yet – she is instinctively suspicious.

    It makes sense, therefore, to put only a small amount of exotic food on her plate at a time, and to fill the rest of it with food that she already enjoys.

    Related: Why does my child only eat certain foods?

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  • Encourage sampling rather than eating
    3 / 6 Encourage sampling rather than eating

    Don’t be dismayed if she tackles the food with enthusiasm, then screws her face up into an expression of disgust.

    Instead of persuading her to eat the whole amount, simply ask her to have a small taste.

    Explain that if she just eats a little of it, you won’t require her to eat the rest. If you do this, the next time you serve the same food to her, she may eat a little more.

    Related: Picky eating: Child eats at school but not at home

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  • Involve her in preparing the unfamiliar food
    4 / 6 Involve her in preparing the unfamiliar food

    New food is less threatening to a young child when she has helped in its preparation, perhaps by bringing the ingredients to you or going with you on the shopping trip to buy the ready-made item.

    The more connected she feels with the food, the less reluctant she will be to eat it.

    Do what you can to engage her interest in this way – it increases her commitment to eating the meal.

    Related: Picky eating: Strange habits and how to stop them

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  • Make the new food look attractive and familiar
    5 / 6 Make the new food look attractive and familiar

    By now, you already know her favourite types of food and what these look like on her plate. It helps if the unfamiliar food does not look too different.

    It’s a question of balance – an unusual meal that looks too colourful and distinctive may fill her with apprehension, whereas a bland-looking plateful is unlikely to whet her appetite.

    You’ll learn the best approach through trial and error.

    Related: 4 reasons why kids are picky eaters

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  • Praise your child when she does eat exotic food
    6 / 6 Praise your child when she does eat exotic food

    There will be times when she eats most of the new food that you put in front of her, perhaps because she liked its smell or taste.

    In such instances, give her lots of praise and encouragement, or even a small reward as a bonus.

    Your approval for her willingness to try something new gives her the confidence to persist until she eventually clears the lot.

    Related: Top 6 vegetables kids hate: How to get them to eat it

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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