The process of discovering and exploring food begins from a few months old and lasts an entire lifetime. Starting this journey with healthy, positive habits will ensure that as an adult, food continues to provide pleasure. But for many mums it can be a struggle to get their child to eat a healthy diet and a broad range of nutritious foods – in fact fussy eating is one of the biggest challenges mums face today when raising a toddler.
According to a survey from Organix Goodies, the organic toddler food brand, mums worry about their children’s diet and 78% of mums would like to encourage their child to eat a broader range of foods than they currently eat and 51% of mums say their child is currently going through a fussy eating stage.
Children’s food expert, Lucy Thomas, who works with Organix to develop their approach to exploring food, says: “I see many worried parents who come to me with concerns over their child not eating the healthy foods they want them to. It’s a natural instinct to want to make sure your child is eating the right food for their development. These worries can sometimes turn into stress, fear and pressure. I try to take away those feelings and put some fun, excitement and discovery into “. By creating opportunities for you and your child to explore and learn together, you will both begin to discover the fun in food. Look at ways to introduce different tastes and textures and prepare your child for what’s coming on the plate.
You can do this by letting them get the meal ready with you – breaking up the broccoli with you – singing about the ingredients, or telling a story about the food they are going to eat. This is all encouraging and supportive for your child and it allows them to become familiar with the food you’re introducing to them.
Lucy explains that a chef’s love of food comes from playing with ingredients and exploring food textures and flavours – that’s how they discover and create new recipes. And children love to do the same, to play, feel, smell and experience the texture and flavours of food.try these top tips to helpfind the fun in food:
• Avoid asking a child to eat, try or taste anything. Start at the beginning by exploring the shape, texture, smell, look and feel of food. Let them experiment and play. Children do not respond positively to ‘eat it all up’, or ‘just try a little bit’. Suggest they play a game where they lick, kiss, juice or crunch it. Before you know it they are eating it!
• Involve your child in growing, preparing or cooking food. They may then want to eat the peas they have grown, shelled and prepared.
• Get a little messy. Let them squash a tomato or squeeze an orange while you are cooking.
• Offer choice. Your child may not like cooked carrots, but she might eat them raw and grated. Also your child’s choices change over time – so don’t give up on offering them.
• Repetition is the key to continued success. Try some action-songs and funny games and keep them going, even following your successes.
• Create star or sticker charts for the whole family to track progress and use positive praise throughout every experience.
Children are great imitators, so set a good example.Put the fun into experimenting with food to help little ones love fruit and veg – so you encourage interest in the food as well as getting your children to actually eat it:
• Show your child how to smell strawberries, lick them to feel the bumpiness of the seeds and roll them gently on the table.
• Cut a grapefruit in half and have fun looking at the pattern inside. Let your child squeeze the juice into a cup.
• When available, buy broad beans in their pods and get your child to help you shell them into a bowl. Talk about how they feel and see who can find the biggest bean.
• Cut a kiwi fruit into thick slices and stack them – see who can build the biggest tower.
• Use a knife to slice through the skin of a banana into ‘wheels’ that they can peel.
• Hide tomatoes around the kitchen or garden and go hunting for them.
• Help your child to line up carrots in order of height or how fat and thin they are.
• Sit with your child and show them how to slice the grapes down the centre to reveal the seeds.
Organix loves making, eating and sharing good food, and our kitchen has been at the heart of our business since we set out in 1992 to offer parents a healthy range of foods. For more helpful advice on feeding your toddler, healthy recipes, fun foodie activities for learning about the world of food and Organix Goodies foods visit www.organix.com.
All Organix foods come with the Organix No Junk Promise – reassurance for mum that there’s no added sugar, artificial colours or flavours, just the goodness of real organic ingredients.