It’s worrying when your child isn’t eating as much as he should be, but there are easy ways to sneak some nutrition into the picky eater’s bowl, says our Material Mom this week.
My husband and I are foodies. We’re not ashamed to admit that we live to eat, and not the other way around.
And our children? We have one child that eats like no tomorrow, and one that is a reluctant eater.
Can you guess which one’s the reluctant eater?
And that’s because they all grow up just fine. This is the hardest thing to tell a parent that is pulling their own hair out, at wits end because their child isn’t eating what has just been painstakingly cooked for them.
Believe me, I have tried everything to get my eldest son to eat with gusto! I’ve done the sweet persuasion thing. I’ve done the roaring angry mummy thing. I’ve done the take-the-food-away-he-will-get-hungry-eventually thing. I’ve even resorted to the bribery thing.
And I’ve done the cry-tears-of-frustration-and-worry thing. Three times a day. Every day for almost a year.
But you know what? He grew out of it. At 2.5 years old, he just started eating. I’d like to take credit for this, but in reality, it was just a phase (albeit a year-long one!) that he went through. And now, he’s at a perfectly healthy weight and height, happy as a clam, and I feel like all those sleepness nights for the past year was just a (really really bad) dream.
Here are some of the things I resorted to (and sometimes still do), to ensure my kids receive appropriate nutrition in their meals.
1) Squeeze kiddy packet food into their rice congee. Kid adverse to vegetables? Those packet foods in the grocery store’s children aisle are a savior. If you reckon they’ll get suspicious, simply squeeze a small dollop into plain rice congee, so it’s barely there. Amp up the amount daily.
2) Puree whatever’s good. My older son doesn’t like berries, which are high in antioxidants. But he’s perfectly fine with eating it when it’s pureed and mixed into his Greek yogurt every morning. You can puree and freeze these into ice cube trays, and pop out a block to defrost every night.
3) Tomato pasta sauce is your friend. Most kids are pretty keen on a tomato-based pasta sauce. Pop in chopped carrots, peas, whatever you get your hands on. It’s not as easy to spot them in the dark-coloured sauce. If your kid has particularly sharp eyes, puree those too! Tip: avocado can be mashed and stirred into pasta sauce. It’s high in good fats and makes the dish extra creamy – yum!
4) Make your own “junk” food. Search online for recipes for zuchinni muffins, carrot and brocolli pudding, vegetable cookies, baked potato chips, etc. It’s the perfect way to offer a little treat to your child, but still get some goodness into them.
5) Tofu is your friend. It’s an excellent source of protein and can easily be mixed (without being detected) into rice congee, pasta, etc. Want to make it more interesting? Lightly pan-fry slices of egg tofu – they can pass off as nuggets for the little ones!
Above all, I maintained a ZERO snacks and desserts rule until my son could eat a full meal by himself. Now, they are both disciplined enough to understand that the goodies aren’t allowed until after their meal. Well…. most of the time 😉
About the author: Having blogged for the past two decades spanning life in Australia, China and Singapore, Beverly Burgess entered an alternate universe at warp speed when she went from career-driven shopaholic and social butterfly … to juggling being a wife and a mother of two kids. All within three years. The career is now replaced with the privilege of being a full-time mum, but the urge to shop and socialize still remains (albeit with two obliging children in tow). And, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She blogs at Beverly’s Adventures.