Yes, for sure it's not an easy task that we're faced with as parents. It doesn't matter how nutritionally aware we as parents and how much knowledge we possess about what our children should be eating. Coping with a fussy eater and ensuring your child gets appropriate nutrition isn't easy - - especially if you have a very thin child, on the verge of becoming underweight. Further, children with sensory disabilities, oral motor problems, and food allergies make ensuring good nutrition even more of a challenge
Today as a mother, I can understand the difficulties my mother had when I was growing up. I was a very fussy eater, and I trained about 5 days a week. Plus, I took part in dance tournaments almost every weekend. For me, it was all about the dancing, jitterbug, jive and rock and roll. I wasn't actually underweight, it was exactly the other way around for me, but in puberty my body then "corrected" and I became very thin. I wonder if I'd been eating better foods and my muscles had been given a better chance, maybe I wouldn't of had the problems that I did. Now I know that my mother did the best she could and she had absolutely no special knowledge of diet and exercise.
Parents today are probably more aware, and nutrition information is a lot more available. However, if your child is a picky eater, it doesn't matter what you know. That's when these tips come in handy.
My youngest son is a thin young man of 12, soon to be 13 years. He is extremely active and has been since he was little. Timmy is just like I was as a child, very picky! For breakfast he eats usually white bread with butter and jam. Yes, while his mother is screaming inside. He can also eat yogurt and cereal, but not just any yogurt (it has to be strawberry or vanilla) and preferably no cereals unless they are covered with sugar - what do you do? Breakfast is the start of the day and the most important meal, so I really want to get him to eat something healthy. I've tried my way and not succeeded at all, but today I managed to give him something very healthy for breakfast and feel that I want to share this with all parents who have a kid who's a fussy eater.
The solution is the humble smoothie! - In a smoothie, you can basically put in lots of healthy things and the kids won't notice everything it contains. Timmy doesn't like all berries, only strawberries so that choice was simple. I asked him this morning if he could think of a nice smoothie he would like and he replied, "it depends on what is in the smoothie..." I replied, "strawberries". Timmy lit up and said cheerfully yes.
Strawberries were there, and a lot of them too. Then there was also yogurt, a bit if Acai, crushed flax seeds - full of omega 3 (Timmy wouldn't eat any seeds, either in sandwiches or in food), coconut (he thinks it's okay in chocolate balls), Egg white protein powder (he would never eat the yolk -- that contains many good vitamins). I mixed this all up and gave it to him, and I had some too. When I tasted it, it was perfect, but I knew that the little fussy boy would be annoyed because the strawberries were not sweetened. So in his smoothie, I added a little honey to sweeten it. Timmy happily drank a large glass of smoothie with his unhealthy sandwich. I'd also like to mention that he is a child who can have very obvious blood sugar dips if he goes too long between meals. Today, he was clearly still in a good mood right up until lunch, even though we had lunch a little late.
Making use of smoothies for breakfast and snacks for your active kids gives you a great opportunity to give your child all the nutrients needed to be as active as possible.
So much energy and vitamins in a drink that they also think is delicious! Does your child need some extra iron? Then just throw in some spinach leaves or parsley which will hardly change the taste at all. Try out a few different mixes for your smoothies to suit your child and I wish you every success with getting your little fussy eater to get the nutrition that they need.
About the author: Jenny Banks is a writer for Melbourne Health Foods in Australia.