It’s like clockwork. Generally, the darling kiddlywinks will eat a wide range of whatever you have available – mashed broccoli, sliced fruit, diced avocado – gimme, gimme, gimme. And then the toddler diet emerges… your cherished cherub, who used to be so good with their food, will now only eat things that are swaddled in breadcrumbs, wrapped in batter, or covered in oil. Most importantly, the only colour they will consume is beige.
Firstly, try not to fret. Apparently the ‘Processed Food Only Please’ diet is perfectly normal… it’s in the genes, you see. When babies become toddlers, more independent and mobile, they naturally become distrustful of anything “fresh”. This is an innate fear to keep them safe in the wild. In other words, it’s to keep the prehistoric hunter/gatherer in them safe from poisonous berries and whatnot. But how can you bring them around the healthy eating? Behold the below image which was swiped from eufic.org
In case you’re attempting to look at this on your phone, the image may not be displaying correctly (*ahems* an issue WordPress has failed to address for over a year at this point), so here is a quick recap of the criteria.
1. Always empower and encourage to do things themselves.
2. Lead by example, so eat well yourselves and keep active.
3. Bring them shopping with you, so they can see where things come from and the array of items on offer. I too rarely bring the kids shopping because it’s a constant campaign for crisps/whatever Frozen themed special buys Lidl have in, but maybe bring them to your local grocery once in a while.
4. Cook together. My kids wouldn’t eat omelettes until I let them mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
5. Eat together. They may not join in with the eating, and it can be utterly disgusting at times, but at least you’re getting your dinner in and won’t have a raging case of the h’anger.
6. Smaller portions. My 2-year-old is much more likely to eat what is on her plate if there is only a small bit of it. They find big portions overwhelming. You can always offer them more if they finish what they’ve been given.
7. Think of other treats/rewards that aren’t food themed.
8. Drink water. Always good to keep hydrated. It also decreases the number of times you’re asked for a snack.
9. Reduce screen time.
10. Ensure they get enough sleep.
Failing that, make a smoothie with fruit, veg, water, honey and some porridge oats and get them to suck it through a (paper) straw (obvs, plastic straws are the devil) so the fruit juices don’t rot their teeth.