The theme for this year’s Nutrition Month is to take the fight out of food. At Public Health we hear from a lot of parents who struggle at mealtime to get their kids to eat and wonder if this is normal. We do try to avoid the term ‘picky eaters’to avoid a negative label on anyone’s eating behaviour. Instead we talk about raising healthy eaters.
It is common for children to go through an eating phase where nothing seems to please them! If the child is happy and growing well, there is usually no need to worry. It is also normal for a child to eat a lot one day and very little the next. Fortunately they are very good at knowing how much food they need so allowing them to decide how much to eat respects their individual appetites.
Some children find comfort in eating familiar foods and may go through periods where they are only eating a few foods. Try not to worry about these food jags. This is a normal way for them to gain some control and independence over their lives. Try to provide a variety of healthy options along with the food that your child enjoys. Eventually the phase will likely pass and your child will try new foods.
But it can take up to 15 or even 20 tries before a child will accept a new food so the key is to keep offering it if the child has turned it down before. Try to be patient and give the child time to get used to new textures and flavors without forcing them to eat.
Find more information at www.healthunit.org where you’ll find a directory of local Registered Dietitians. Connect with the Health Unit on Facebook and Twitter. Speak with a Registered Dietitian at no cost by calling EatRight Ontario 1-877-510-5102.