As parents, most of us have this fairy tale imagery of family mealtimes with kids: chatting and laughing together while everyone happily tucks into a healthy meal. But sadly, with kids being such fussy eaters, the developments surrounding our dining tables are often stressful and maddening.
And of course, the last thing we want to do after a long day at work is waging a war over a ‘thoran’ at the dinner table. Perhaps that’s the reason why we easily give up the ‘eat your veggies’ fight and let them have their Oreo biscuits instead of a full meal. But the truth is getting your child eat a nutritious meal doesn’t have to be a battle.
Here, Onmanorama Women offers some tried and tested tips to deal with your fussy eater.
1. Introduce healthier elements into the dishes that your kid already likes. For example, add fruits to his bowl of ice cream or swap carrot cake for pastries and potato stir fry for french fries.
2.Get the kids involved in the prep work. This helps them buy into the whole concept of food preparation. It also instills a sense of ownership over the meal, they may be eating the coming week.
3. Out of sight, out of mind. So, avoid buying unhealthy snacks and frozen treats. If cream biscuit and chips aren’t around, they just can’t eat them. They may resist at first, but when they get hungry, they will start eating that 'kumbalappam' or ‘vattayappam’ they had been resisting all this time.
4. Snacks should be served only at a certain time. If your children know they will only get cookies only during the snack time, they’ll eat what they get when they get it.
5. Have easy-to-go food handy. Kids tend to like food that they can handle easily. So it’s more likely that your kid eats a baked veggie fritter rather than a messy curry or 'thoran'.
6. The “clean your plate” rule is a passe. Let them stop eating when they’re full. Force-feeding a strict no-no.
7. Make the meal time a game by encouraging them to eat different colors. It works quite well with younger kids.
8. Don’t cut out treats altogether. Moderation is the key. A can of Pringles or an eight-square bar of milk chocolate is all right occasionally. If you cut out all the junk, your kids will be more likely to overeat when they do get them.
9. Vegging out in front of the television sounds great. But it may not be a good idea if you want your kids to value their meal time. Also, eating as a family is a great time to catch up.
10. Be a good role model. The best way to influence kids is by being an example. Don’t expect them to eat 'bitter gourd stir fry’ if you won’t touch it.