Recently Curtis Stone was quoted in the media talking about fussy eating. He said, “let them go hungry”. Here are our thoughts …
Many say that “healthy kids won’t starve themselves” but this is highly simplistic. Children won’t starve themselves when safe foods are provided. Plus parents generally don’t want to put the theory to the test and actually let their kids go without dinner. Particularly not for more than one day!
I appreciate what Curtis Stone is saying, but there is a kinder middle ground that will help kids to become colourful and adventurous eaters (and not having you cooking separate meals) – and allow families to enjoy food together.
Adults control so much of a child’s everyday life …but there is one thing we can’t force a child to do and that is eat. We can bribe them, beg them or trick them, but these are not long term solutions.
Remember, we are not just trying to get our kids to eat today, we are raising adults and teaching kids how to eat.
To help make kids familiar with new foods you can get them to shop and cook meals, pretend play and story books about fruits and veggies. Check out FOOST range of knives and books.
My top tips for raising food-loving kids:
1. Share the responsibility
The parent has the responsibility to serve food regularly; Kids choose what and how much they eat (from whats offered to them). Read more.
Parents and carers are to offer food at regular intervals that’s your job done! No need to cook multiple meals, but a little compassion is important. Serve foods they already like (SAFE foods) with new foods, to encourage them to try something new (eg. broccoli AND carrots – if broccoli isn’t a favourite but carrots are, or pop some bread on the side of the meal).
My kids like separate vegetables more than mixed salad, so I usually make a salad platter and let them choose which vegetables to take.
If your kids choose to eat nothing from your set menu, that’s okay (as long as you have provided some safe foods in the mix). Let them know when the next meal or snack time is and that there will be no food until then. If they go to bed a little hungry, let them know breakfast is not that far away.
2. Create family meal times
This can be hard for working families, but it’s very important to eat together (around the table, without the TV) as often as possible. This is great for role modeling; providing a relaxed and enjoyable social time. One parent eating with kids is fine during the week (its often me OR my partner eating with the kids), every member of the family does not have to be there to count as a family meal.
3. Have set meal and snack times
Kids should be coming to the dinner table hungry, but not famished to be open to new food experiences. As a guide young children can go 2-3 hours between meals (this is for children older than 18 months). 2 hours for younger children and 3 as they get older.
To learn intuitive eating, kids need to listen to their bodies and feel hunger and fullness. Kids are great at listening to their bodies, while adults often have to re-learn this. (Note: to feel hunger/fullness grazing isn’t recommended for those older than 1)
4. Change your attitude
Remember- No need to pressure them about HOW much or WHAT they eat from what’s offered (just providing them with healthy food regularly). Start believing that your kids will eat. Eating can be learnt, with time, positivity and patience.