Handling Picky Eaters

What do you do if your child is a Picky Eater? We have all seen parents lamenting about their fussy children and how the children have hardly touched their food! Yes! This is a familiar story with parents and handling picky eaters can be quite a handful! Are there practical strategies which parents can employ, to make life easier?

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Being a parent is never easy, and as baby grows up, parents need to fight a new frontier. We all want our children to eat, and to eat well! Nutrition is important for the healthy development of every child and we are the end result of what we consume! This leads us to the dilemma of  handling picky eaters!

As a parent of 3 kids, I am blessed with children that eat well. My son does not just eat his chicken rice, but he can consume another half packet of Wan Ton Mee after the chicken rice! The girls have similar healthy appetites.

However, we face the same frustration as most parents. My son hates vegetables and he leaves the “good stuff” behind, as he consumes the noodles and rice. My youngest daughter can survive on plain rice and avoids the many nutrients found in every meal. Totally frustrating!

As my kids are already in primary school, here are some coping strategies that we have tried to employ to combat the problem of handling picky eaters!


1) Don’t Stress yourself Out 

Being a parent presents one with many battles and warring over a meal may not be worth the stress. Children won’t die if they miss a meal and if they decide they are not hungry, let them live with the consequences. Children should stick to their regular meal routines and if they are refusing lunch, they should be aware, that their next meal is at dinner

2)  Make cute and pretty Bento Sets 

Parents have reminded us about the perks of “Beautifying” each meal and making great looking bento sets. Through these methods, they have managed the children to eat their vegetables with great success. However, with full-time jobs, we find the decorative routine difficult to upkeep.

How do we serve our family meals? Well, we serve it as it is! The meat looks like meat, and the vegetables look like vegetables. What do you do when the kids get picky?

We go back to rule no. 1! Don’t stress yourself out! Let them know there are no snacks and if you don’t eat, you will live with the consequences.

3) Eat like the French 

I must say that I would have liked to have employed these French Strategies, but we did not really know about them until recently. However, they have seemed to have worked for a lot of caucasian children. Well, if you are wondering what they are, do read on…

There are some studies that show that French children generally eat better and behave better at meal times! Generally, they are not picky eaters and they are willing to try new foods. What’s the Prussian secret?

Firstly, every meal is not at the TV. They have sit down meals at the dining table, where every meal like one at the french restaurant. Honestly, while the kids were growing up, we did make them have each meal at the dining table. This made sure, that our kids were not running and fooling around when it is was time to eat.

Having a “Zero iPad” zone at the table, indicated to the child, that lunch was just lunch and that the meal was not a side dish to their favorite cartoons!

This was the rule in the house in the growing up years and we have only relaxed it in the last 2 years, with the kids eating in front of the TV. (Note to self: I think I should strongly go back to the enforcement of dining table ruling).

In French Schools, they teach the importance of a healthy eating routine to children and they teach children about healthy food in the classroom and the lunchroom.

Starting when children enter school at age three, school lunch consists of four courses: a vegetable starter (for example, grated carrot salad, or beet salad), a warm main course served with a side of grains or vegetables, cheese, and dessert.

Fresh baguette, eaten plain, is also served. The kids drink water (there are no other drinks of any kind available at lunch, and there is a national ban on vending machines and junk food in all French schools).

Dessert is usually fresh fruit, but a sweet treat is often served once a week. Amazing isn’t it.

The French Ministry of National Education sets a minimum time requirement for children to sit at the table: 30 minutes. This is give the kids time to eat their food slowly and properly.

Personally, all I remember during my recess time was 5 minutes at the table, and the rest of the time playing “catching” in the school field. Sitting and enjoying my food was never in my vocabulary. In fact, I am like my kids … I can eat the same chicken rice or yellow noodles for the whole week, month and year! 🙂

Kids will be kids and although we have our ideal standards, there is always a disparity between theory and reality. We are still trying different ways to get our kids to try all foods, but we have also learned to “chill”, when our plans don’t exactly come to past.

Like all parents, we have tried our best to hide the vegetables in the food. However, as they grow older, they get more discerning in their taste buds and can sniff out bits of carrots even in the meatballs. But as we keep trying…  we also understand that it’s all about modeling.

The kids learn from us adults.  And that means I need to increase in my intake of my vegetables and show then how yummy it is! Truly a problem for any guy! 🙂

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