Welcome to, or back to Passionate nutrition.
In my time teaching food and nutrition my goal was always to teach cooking skills, and also to encourage young people to try new and a range of foods, and to not only expand their palettes but also, open their minds to the possibility that their ‘norm’ is not the only way.
As a young parent, I did not know what I now know about ‘neophobia’ (the irrational fear of foods, extremely common, and usually developing around the age of 2), or the science of the developing taste buds, super-tasters, or how a poor gut microbiome can impact our ability/motivation to eat a range of foods, and then of course the fact that most of our taste is learned.
“We like the food we have learned to like” by Melanie Joy, Ph.D., author of Beyond beliefs
Think about it, if a child is born in Korea, their lunch looks extremely different to that of a UK born child, and if they were to swap, this deviation to their norm would bring about a definite disgust to both parties I am sure! However, we have our society norms, and ideally parents encourage children from very young to keep trying a variety of foods, check out the tips below to help you in dealing with any faddy eating, or just supporting the exploration of a range of foods, after all the less fussy our child, the more likely they will be healthy and open to new experiences and foods as they grow. Be patient and calm, as children pick up on frustration and can dig their heals in, also we want to create fun around food not shame, and many of us can carry our own stories about food from our past. Most of all remember you are only a guide for your child, they are on their own path, and there are many forces at work outside of what you are doing, for example, hugely sophisticated advertising and marketing of junk foods, ‘norms’ in our society expect teens to eat junk, friends are a major influence on teens. Here is where being the role model, and trusting your children will look around them and see what feeling healthy and happy really entails.
10 faddy food tips!
1. Relax around food, be a role model. Remember Neophobia is different for all children, and the child can feel real fear. If you are showing enjoyment of your food they will get the message.
2. If you have another child who is a good eater, make a fuss in praising them. Ignore the picky behaviour and praise where you see the good. Alternatively, invite your child’s friend who is a good eater, and do the same here.
3. Young children respond very well to giving foods names and connecting the food to a super power e.g. Sugar snap peas make you run faster, peppers and carrots give you super vision etc.
4. Blindfold challenges have been without a doubt my most successful technique to getting a child to try new foods. Take a tray and include a few familiar foods and a few different foods. Make it a game and have a few children join in.
5. Pizza challenge – My daughter started this as an idea from youtube, but instead of an unhealthy challenge we changed it to be healthy. You give each ingredients a number and place it into a bag so that you can not see what it is (blind ingredient), each child (or you can have a few on each team) has a pizza base, taking turns to choose a blind ingredient, they have to put it on the pizza, at the end they have to cook it and taste. It is really fun and it pays to mix up the ingredients with a few not totally healthy, healthy and some pretty normal e.g. strawberries, sugar-free jelly, potato crisps, spinach, chili, tomatoes, coconut, carrot slices, banana etc.6. Have a rule that you always try things, but you will never have to eat it. For example, adding a teaspoon of a new food to the plate where it is expected that it is tried and then if it is a ‘no, thank you’ no problem, but it may become a ‘yes please’. Particularly good for those who have become quite plain eaters.
6. Have a rule that you always try things, but you will never have to eat it. For example, adding a teaspoon of a new food to the plate where it is expected that it is tried and then if it is a ‘no, thank you’ no problem, but it may become a ‘yes please’. Particularly good for those who have become quite plain eaters.
7. Promote the understanding by discussing different cultures that ‘we eat what we learn to like’, each culture is different. For example, if you were born in Korea your school lunch would look very different, and you would be used to that food. We can try new foods and expand our taste palette, making new foods even more exciting.
8. Some children are more likely to eat something if it is dipped into a condiment. My daughter likes to dip veggie sticks and spinach into tomato puree. Allowing them to do this will expand the amount of foods they will try.
9. Get them shopping, cooking and preparing their vegetables and their meals. A great start is to make wrap pizzas and fruit faces on plates, give them a choice of ingredients to sprinkle on top.
10. Be creative, serve some veggie sticks before a meal, if children have no other snacks and are hungry and it is easy to reach for, they are more likely to eat them. Give them segments of oranges and call them orange smiles, let them know spinach gives you power, energy and amazingly shiny hair!
Most of all be patient and don’t be hard on yourself, each meal time is different, steps forward and back can be taken on any given day.
This chia pudding can be served as breakfast or a snack at any time of the day. The chia seeds are packed with nourishing calcium, protein and omega 3 and you can try a few different additions.
Chia banana breakfast pudding
This is a wonderful alternative to porridge or overnight oats, although you can definitely use oats, linseeds/flax or chia seeds for this recipe.
- 1 mashed banana
- 2tbsp ground chia/linseed
- 150ml almond or coconut milk
- optional flavourings:
Himalayan salt, vanilla bean extract, cacao, cinnamon, grated apples
- optional toppings:
walnuts, coconut flakes, berries, goji berries
Mix the first three ingredients and any flavourings you wish (blend if not using ground chi/linseed) and place covered in the fridge for 20 minutes or overnight (if overnight, you may want to add mashed banana when you are ready to eat). If you are using oats to replace chia/linseed soaking overnight is best.
I hope you have enjoyed today’s post at it supports you and your family in living healthfully and happy for many years to come!
Much love and light,