Guest post by Bronwyn, part of the Grasshoppers team.
It’s easy to forget, but adults can be fussy about their veggies too. Around this time of year, there is often a debate about whether sprouts should be loved or hated and whether parsnips are delicious or deadly.
Having said that, some children aren’t just complaining about the odd sprout or carrot, many refuse to eat anything that comes from the ground. While this can be frustrating for parents, it’s important to remember that there are often reasons behind your child’s eating habits.
However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Getting your fussy child to eat vegetables isn’t impossible, but it certainly isn’t easy either.
Reasons behind fussy eaters
The first thing parents need to remember is that your child is not avoiding vegetables just to annoy you.
Research says, there are two main reasons for fussy eating behaviour: being afraid to try new foods – known as neophobia – and a preference for sweet tastes.
If you think about it, it’s easy to see a dislike of bitter foods in children. While you might live off a diet of dark chocolate and coffee later in life, they are two foods that children tend to hate.
This is apparently instilled in us as a defence mechanism to prevent us from eating poisonous foods at a time when children may have picked berries straight from the plant. Bitter foods were likely to be poisonous, whereas sweet foods were usually considered safe and nutritional.
The second reason, called neophobia, doesn’t usually start until children are around two years old. This is also the age when children are no longer reliant on their mother’s breast milk and so by avoiding new foods, they are protecting themselves from unsafe food.
Top tips for eating vegetables
- Set a good example
Why do you think your child will eat new foods if you won’t? Children often follow in the footsteps of their parents, meaning that if vegetables don’t appear on your plate, they’ll start to question why. Remember, young children only know what they are taught.
- Let them join in
By allowing the kids to get involved with the process of shopping, preparing and cooking, they’re far more likely to be interested in eating it. Whether they’re picking the ingredients in the supermarket or washing vegetables, it’s good for them to join in in any way they can.
- Make vegetables sweeter
As mentioned, one of the reasons for disliking vegetables is the bitter taste. However, by adding honey or lemon juice to the veggies, it will make them seem sweet. You could also choose to serve them raw as most are sweeter before they’re cooked.
- Don’t force them to clear the plate
You might remember being told that if you didn’t finish your dinner, you would eat it for breakfast, but this is not a good method. Forcing your child to eat something they don’t want will only create a negative atmosphere and in turn, negative associations with the food in question.
- Try the ‘one bite’ rule
It may not be beneficial to force them to clear the plate, but encouraging them to eat one bite of all food served is a good way to increase exposure. It has been found that kids have to try rejected food up to 10 times before accepting it.
These are five great ways to start getting your fussy child to eat vegetables, but most importantly, keep at it.
Bronwyn is a member of the Grasshopper Jumping Castle team. Grasshoppers is a Brisbane-based jumping castle hire company specialising in fun and good times. We hire castles and zorb balls for parties and events of all shape and size. We'd love to hear from you, so please get in touch by email at: email@example.com and phone: 0438 737 332