The biggest parenting challenge I have faced so far is getting Leo to eat healthily. Yes, the sleepless nights, breastfeeding and temper tantrums have all been difficult in their own way but nothing worries me and frustrates me more than Leo’s fussy eating.
Making sure your children get their 5-a-day is something we are constantly being told to do, be it by television advertisements, articles in the media or health professionals. There is so much pressure to make sure our little ones are getting all the nutrients they need and they are eating foods full of those all important vitamins. When your child turns their nose up at an apple and instead happily munches on biscuits, it can be hard to not feel like you have failed in some way.
I have learnt now not to beat myself up about Leo’s fussy eating, I offer him healthy foods every day, sometimes it ends up in his tummy, more often though it ends up on the floor. He went through a really long, infuriating phase of only eating beige food: toast, pasta, chips were all happily scoffed down, while his broccoli was left lonely and neglected on the side of his plate. I tried all the little tricks people suggested, I covered his veg in cheese, chopped it up really small, arranged it into little green sculptures on his plate, everything. Nothing worked.
In more recent months though, Leo’s vegetable intake has slowly increased. It is still nowhere near as much as I would like but we are definitely making progress. Slowly but surely more vegetables are going in to his mouth and not left to rot away in the bin. It has taken a lot of improvisation and patience but, at last, my fussy little eater is starting to eat, and enjoy, more vegetables.
For anyone else struggling with a veggiephobe, here is how I got my boy to start eating the healthy stuff. I can’t guarantee these will work for your little one but it is worth a try.
How I got my toddler to eat more vegetables
I love making home made soups. They are easy to prepare and you can load them up with as much or as little veg as you want. I always give Leo soldiers of toast with his and pop them straight in the bowl with the soup. Even if he avoids eating the soup with his spoon, he always eats the toast which is drenched in all that veggie goodness. Whenever I feel Leo hasn’t eaten very healthy in a few days, I always make soup for lunch and it puts my mind at ease.
Raw veg sticks.
There are some vegetables Leo won’t even consider eating if they are cooked but slice them up and give them to him raw and it is a whole different story. Carrots are Leo’s favourite vegetable but he will only eat them raw. Cucumber also goes down well as do sticks of red pepper and cherry tomatoes. I wish I had thought to offer him raw vegetables sooner instead of spending months stressing over wasted steamed carrots.
People have mixed opinions on sneaking vegetables into your child’s food but I would rather do it this way than have him not eat any at all. If Leo is going through a particularly fussy phase, Oli and I will blend up the vegetables in to a sauce. This works really well with pasta dishes, cook up some onions, peppers, mushrooms, or whatever you fancy and blend it all together with some tinned tomatoes and herbs. It doesn’t take long to do and once it is stirred in with the pasta, your little one will never know they are eating lots of healthy veggies.
Quit with the pressure.
This applies to yourself and your child. If you are spending mealtime after mealtime battling with your child to eat their peas and carrots, you are both going to end up frustrated and upset. Yes, I do think encouraging them to try their veg is important but if they don’t want to just try not to make a fuss. I am speaking from experience, mealtimes used to be so hard and I would get really stressed when Leo wouldn’t even try his vegetables. We would try the whole ‘here comes the aeroplane thing’, Leo would clamp his mouth shut and I would get frustrated. I have since stopped putting pressure on myself and on him and come to the conclusion he is only going to eat it if he wants to. As it turns out, the less attention I draw to the veggies sat on his plate, the more likely he is to eat them.
So there you have it, how I got my two year old to eat more vegetables. I can’t say any of these are 100% fool proof, toddlers are flighty creatures, what works one day may not work the next but anything is worth a try when you have a fussy eater, isn’t it? I hope this post is helpful. I now have the toddler equivalent of bugs bunny, that boy is always chomping away on a carrot!
|Picnics are also a great idea, by the way!
Do you have a fussy eater too? How do you get your children to eat their vegetables? Let me know, I am always looking for tips and I am sure there are lots of other parents out there too who would love a stress free meal!
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