March is nutrition month and we are going to explore different topics in nutrition and healthy eating for kids. This week we are going to talk about eating challenges. Whether it’s picky eating or skipping meals, we want to give you the tools you need to make mealtime an enjoyable one!

1) Always wanting the same food for meals
Although you’re wondering “How much plain pasta can one human consume?!”, your child is thinking “This is delicious!” As long as your child’s favourite food is in one of the main food groups (ie. Grains, vegetables/fruits, milk and alternatives and meat and alternatives) then let them have it! This is a phase that will pass and something else will become their new favourite.

2) Au Pair uses persuasion to get child to eat
Your Au Pair may feel pressured to get your child to eat everything that is on their plate. This could come from an expectation that you have expressed to them or from their own culture. Gently explain to them that the child can have a say in how much or how little they want to eat. Persuasion a child to eat (or coaxing) can lead to negative association with food. Tell your Au Pair to be an example by eating with your child at the dinner table and explain what your child’s signs are of when they are finished eating.

3) Won’t get off the bottle
Bottles were such a vital part of your child’s infancy and they can become very soothing, therefore difficult to give up. Try providing your child with a cup in place of one bottle during the day. Slowly transition morning, afternoon and evening bottle for a cup and eventually the bottle will be no more! Exchanging the soothing feeling provided by a bottle with more cuddles for your child.

4) Eating little or skipping meal entirely
Take a look at your routine/schedule. Are you providing snacks to your child close to dinnertime? Have they eaten a lot of filling food the prior to today? Skipping a meal every now and again will not harm your child; in fact they may not even be hungry. Serve smaller portion at lunch so your child comes to the dinner table hungry.

5) Not liking vegetables
This is one of those eating challenges that we’ve all heard from kids. But there are a couple of solutions that you can try! First, try to take them to the grocery store to help pick out which vegetables they want to eat. Or better, take them to a farm or garden so they can see how vegetables are grown! Second, try a variety of vegetables and make it fun. If they don’t like carrots, try broccoli and call it a tree. Or, cut the veggies up in different and fun ways. Third, lead by example. Don’t make it a big deal but at each meal you should also be eating your vegetables because they are looking up at you.

6) Picky eaters
Yet another one of those eating challenges that we’ve all come across. If this is something new that has come up, try to look at the bigger picture. Sometimes picking eating can be a control tactic for your child. Perhaps they feel ignored or they are having difficulty in school. When it comes to picky eaters, don’t try to make a variety of choices for them because this can lead to more challenges in the future (especially for you!) Instead, serve foods that are packed with nutrition for mealtime such as fruits and vegetables, chicken, milk, eggs and yogurt. This way any food that is available to them at mealtime will be filled with good stuff.
Try the “Green Eggs and Ham” tactic (I learned this one from my sister). Read the classic Dr. Seuss tale and explain to your children that Sam I Am thinks that the Green Eggs and Ham are yucky until he tries them. All of a sudden, Sam can’t get enough of the Green Eggs and Ham! Lesson: you never know until you try!

To learn more about how to combat picky eaters, bottle takers and veggie haters, check out the Ontario Eats website.