Welcome to the Well Nourished Family… we’re here to support you to make the most of this fabulous membership and help you to take steps to eat well more consistently. You’re on this page because you’ve indicated that you have a child or children that may be resistant to trying new foods.
So before you dive into the many features here inside the membership, take the time to read over the following page so that you can gradually develop new habits that work for you and your family. I liken The Well Nourished Family to a gym membership – imagine joining a gym and right off attending every class and using every piece of equipment… you’d burn out pretty fast so in the name of making lasting changes to the way your family eats, take this slow!
No one likes change, especially children and as a parent, I understand just how frustrating it is when kids are resistant to trying new foods or a healthier way of eating. Most kids do push back at various stages of their development (and this is developmentally normal), especially when they sense you are invested in them loving what you have cooked… perceptive buggers 😉.
In my experience, fussy eaters don’t develop better eating habits if they are served only the foods they like day after day. By doing so you either reinforce their picky eating or instead, they burn out and eat even less variety over time.
So if your children are picky eaters sometimes, in general or just averse to change, you will need to be very strategic and measured in your approach to incorporating new meals and flavours into their diet. The following information is intended to help you to develop systems to improve your whole family’s eating habits without adding to your cognitive load!
Family meals matter
First and foremost, family meals REALLY matter! Sharing mealtimes with your children will positively impact on all of your eating experiences and can dramatically improve the health of the whole family. Children who eat, as many meals as circumstances allow at a table with their family, are more open to trying new foods and develop a healthy relationship with food. A Harvard study confirmed that children having dinner as a family most days were also more likely to consume more fruit and vegetables and generally have a higher intake of nutrients.
Once more, the health benefits extend beyond the physical. Dining together as a family is often the time we socialise and converse with our loved ones. As parents, we not only demonstrate the values of healthy eating (hopefully) but teach social values, table manners and the art of conversation. This is so simple but so very important for the health of the family unit. Studies have confirmed that sharing meals through the teen years will reduce the likelihood of the development of eating disorders and depression, as well as children being less likely to smoke, drink alcohol or try illicit drugs.
So try to share at least one meal a day as a family. Most of the families I’ve worked with who’ve had issues with fussiness have often resolved these issues by simply sharing positive dining experiences with their children. It’s a very simple thing to do, but the effect is profound!
The key ingredients
There are four key ingredients that you will require for creating adventurous, food loving kids. Patience, persistence, positivity and praise!
Patience is required by the bucketload when parenting a picky eater (or raising kids in general)! Remember all things are difficult before they become easy! Be patient, this could take some time before you see progress, but with patience and persistence it will happen!
All kids need to be taught and guided through life and just as you teach your kids to toilet train, to read and write, you also teach them to learn to love a variety of foods. You’d never give up on toilet training or teaching them to read so please don’t give up on them learning to love eating a variety of whole foods.
Kids learn to trust a food by watching us eat, looking at it before and after it is cooked, tasting it, touching it, spitting it out – this is normal and not a sign that they don’t like it. One of my sons first full sentences was ‘don’t like flowers’ (which was actually salad) but after years of serving it on his plate, watching his dad and I eat and enjoy it, touching it, eventually tasting it and after spitting it out more times than I’d care to think about – he eventually accepted green leafy vegetables and now ‘salad’ is one of his favourite foods.
Also expect that all kids appetites will vary day to day, week to week, some days a little, some days a lot. We need to honour that.
Approach food and mealtimes with nothing but positivity and an open mind. And remember when things do go well, gently praise your picky eater.
If mealtimes are a bit of a war zone, keep reading, we have many more tips and suggestions for you!
Getting used to ‘different’ flavours
Quite a few recipes combine lots or herbs and spices to create flavoursome, super healthy meals. Herbs and spices are so medicinal and I think a really important inclusion for sustaining good health so rather than avoiding these recipes, work with them and once again, take it slow.
My kids have eaten full strength curries and spicy meals from when they were very young. The way I got them used to the flavours was to make a curry as I always have (minus obvious heat like chilli or cayenne) and if they found it too spicy or intense, we added natural yoghurt or coconut milk to tone it down to a point that it tasted good to them.
Some really heat sensitive kids will find ginger too ‘hot’ and if this is the case, start by only adding a quarter of what the recipe states and build from there. As they come around to the lesser amount, you can gradually increase it.
Transitioning to less sugar
If the sweet stuff has got out of hand in your household, don’t despair, it’s always possible to transition from the sweet stuff to more nutritionally dense foods. With the sweet recipes here you may need to add extra sugar/ sweetener as you transition from other recipes as I try to keep the sugar in my recipes minimal. Then you can gradually reduce it to help them to adjust to less sugar.
Planning really helps
Now that you understand a little more how you are going to approach your picky eaters to help them stretch their comfort zone a little I want to share with you some greats tips around planning and setting and your family up for success.