Tips for Fussy Little Eaters

Involve your kids in deciding the menu but create some guidelines. After all, if you ... food when you are somewhere extra special, like a theme park, to top up the ...
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HOME Magazine :: January 2011 :: Special Feature

Tips for Fussy Little Eaters By Trudy Williams

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olidays are a change from the usual routine: school is out, you can sleep in without an alarm clock, fun activities and games take over from homework, and eating schedules and foods are different. A break from shopping, cooking and healthy meal planning is what most parents look forward to, but the truth is we all still need to eat - especially the kids! If you have got fussy eaters, then it is very tempting to relax and let them rule the kitchen and supermarket trolley during school holidays, but days away from school still count for a child’s health. It may be six weeks of holidays at Christmas, but tally up the entire year and there are close to 170 days a year when the kids are not in school (weekends included) – that is almost half of the year! Totally taking time off from feeding them well during the holidays is not an option, but micro-managing every morsel is not ideal either… So, how do you strike a balance that works? Trying to amuse the kids let alone feed them can be tough at the Christmas break, especially if you are going away. One aim is to shift the focus off food during the holidays; food and eating is not a hobby or holiday pursuit and you do not want to be buried in the kitchen longer than necessary. Sure, the food range changes and there are going to be huge days with loads of ice-cream, chocolate and sweets, but keep the foundation meal plan firm with tasty food that is also nourishing and a healthy child’s natural appetite will guide how much of all the extras are consumed.

Timely tips to handle even the fussiest eaters over the holidays: • Design a general meal plan and shop to suit. By planning what the family is going to eat from shop to shop, you can avoid last-minute frenzies and decisions about what you will serve. Involve your kids in deciding the menu but create some guidelines. After all, if you leave menu decisions up to kids entirely, they will swing from drive-through fast food to impractical MasterChef. The guidelines might be that main meals must include vegetable or salad and be prepared without packet ingredients. Involve younger children by allowing a choice between meals you would want them to eat - whether they help to make pikelets or scones today, or which meal from your list gets cooked tonight. • Do not make the supermarket a holiday destination or you will lose control over quality. With children in tow it is harder to say no to their demands and the

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Special Feature :: January 2011 :: HOME Magazine trolley will quickly fill with indulgence foods. Shop for groceries online to avoid kids fighting, massive lines and the mad dash for that last car park. You will also save time to spend at the beach and in the park. If online shopping is not an option, hand the task to someone else who can shop armed with your list. • Keep an eye on the time and stick to a routine. Children of all ages respond better when you keep meals and snacks to a predictable time pattern. If you overlook the time, the kids will get stubborn and more demanding as their hunger escalates. • If you are going to be out during a feeding zone, pack a lunch/snack box for everyone and think ahead to where you can stop for a feeding break. You control the quality and the pressure is not there to buy and eat from the food court, or grab something from a fast food outlet, service station, vending machine or airport lounge. Allow the kids to choose a vacation food when you are somewhere extra special, like a theme park, to top up the packed lunch. • Enjoy more of the local, seasonal and healthier foods. Give your child an opportunity to try other foods and expand their repertoire, whether it is a new fruit or vegetable plucked from the farmer’s field, or a fish caught by their own hands. • When packing a box is not an option, then go quickly via the supermarket rather than the food court. Grab fresh bread rolls, wraps, deli meats, pre-sliced che