Susan Williams, dietician, hosted a series on Feeding Fussy Eaters – every busy parents worst nightmare! Here is a summary of just some of the gems that she shared.
Healthy meals for everyone
Mel: Just wondering how you go about setting out healthy meal plans ensuring that everyone eats the same meal……i.e not cooking separately for fussy kids?
Hi Mel, yay that is such a good question! Ok I always suggest feeding family style. That is All meal components laid out for self service in the centre of the table. So if you were having spaghetti bolognese you would put the pasta in a bowl, the sauce in a bowl, the garlic bread on a plate, any salad ingredients I always serve separately too. Serve fatty options like butter, avocado, mayonnaise, hommous etc to dip, spread and accompany the foods, children do well with high fat options, and it makes it easier to eat dry foods like bread or lean meats. Always include familiar food like bread and butter to calm anxious eaters. and then sit down and enjoy the meal.
Helpfully, I find when the meal is served separately like this rather than plated up theres far less wastage. You can put glad wrap back on things that aren’t eaten rather than scraping an entire plate into the bin
Meals like roasts are a great option for this style of family feeding. Oddly one of my children loves beetroot (and very few other vegetables) so we always have a bowl of beetroot with our meals
Using bolognese or casserole as an example, sometimes I’ll take off a portion of the plain dish and then add chilli, herbs, mushrooms, spinach capsicum etc to the remainder for myself and my husband. It goes on the table too as an option, if the children want to give it a go they are welcome – never happens, but it will one day
Jane: I like that idea but do you find the kids only take the bits they like and leave the healthy stuff or do you make them take that too? I have been putting salad, if you can call it that lol (lettuce avo beetroot cheese for one child, lettuce beetroot carrot cheese for the other) on their plates with the other components of the meal and am finding that works ok so far but not sure how long that will go as summer nears.
Hi Jane, I find it works better to allow self-service. That is put the lettuce, avocado, beetroot, cheese and carrot on separate plates/bowls, put out tongs and let the children serve themselves. It’s great for their dexterity and also helps them take the chance to try new foods. It tells them that you are confident that they can do it. Serving only what they like confirms that they should only like those foods and that perhaps the other foods aren’t ok.
Posture is important
Posture and core stability are important for children to be able to sit well at a dining table. Your child needs to be able to sit with their feet flat to the floor or a raised surface. Their hips and knees should be at 90 degrees and they should be able to rest their arms on the table. When they are in this position they are most stable and can feel competent with eating.
When you see children twizzling (thats a word) around on their chair or with one foot on the floor and one bum cheek on their chair looking like they’re ready to run, check their seating position. You may need to give them a foot rest or a booster cushion or both.
Remember its the family mealtime that is the most important thing. Not the actual meal that is served.
When you read research that says family meals are protective against obesity, drug use in teens, resilience against cyber bullying etc it can add a lot of pressure to already stressed out families. What goes on the table is important, but not as important as the fact that you sat around a table together and connected. So a bought BBQ chook, with a bag of pre washed salad, some fluffy white rolls and a tub of coleslaw, although no-ones idea of gourmet, will get the job done.
Get the mealtime routine happening and the food will follow.