New research that has revealed that childhood fussy eating is at an all-time high, with more than 90% of Australian parents feeling stressed, anxious or emotionally drained about their child's diet.
The survey, led by Mum Central and commissioned by IsoWhey Clinical Nutrition found that parents are willing to try anything to get their kids to eat well – hiding vegetables in main meals, bribing their children with eating in front of the TV as well as trying to be good role models by eating healthy foods at the dinner table with their kids. The report found:
- 86% of parents feel worried that their child is not meeting the recommended daily intake of nutrients
- 67% of respondents say their children have a fear of trying new foods
- 59% of parents said their child or children "Will flat out refuse to eat most vegetables and salads"
Mealtimes, especially dinner, are an emotional struggle for parents, with respondents reporting that there is shouting, screaming, vomiting or kids simply refusing to eat what's offered to them.
How to help your child get off the no-vegetables diet
Here are Brisbane dietitian Kate Di Prima’s top 4 tips:
1. Try different ways to serve food. “Some children have sensory issues, which causes them to steer clear of wet, slimy or highly flavoured or pungent vegetables, fruits or salads,” says Kate. Try chopping up fruit and arranging it in a smiley face on a plate. Try roasting vegies to give them a better flavour and threading them on a mini kebab sticks with a food that they do like, to increase the appeal.
2. Talk to your GP about using a food supplement. “Parents can reduce some of the immediate stress and worry that they have about dietary inadequacies by filling those nutritional gaps with a well-balanced food supplement.”
3. Use baby steps. “Some children are completely fearful of new foods. There is a six-step process to encourage tasting new food that we teach: The first step is they must leave the food on the plate rather than tipping or scraping it off. The next step is picking it up with their hands, then bringing it around the nasal area and kissing it, followed by holding it in their front teeth, then their back teeth. It is a slow and steady encouraging process.”
4. Get some back up. “If a child goes through a short spurt of fussiness, this is not detrimental. However, if they are cutting out whole groups of foods, missing out on high-quality nutrients, vitamins and minerals for an extended period of time, this can affect their growth and development. If you’re feeling stressed, speak to a healthcare practitioner for some support.”