Encourage Our Children to Eat Fruits

Fruits

Among all the motherhood challenges I’ve experienced while raising my son, the toughest one has to be dealing with his fussy eating behaviour. Obviously, it takes a lot of patience but unfortunately, it’s also something that I’m seriously lack of.

As a matter of fact, introducing and re-introducing fruits has become an interesting game in my household. Like it or not, I’ve to keep trying because our boy is very prone to constipation. A lot of times, he’ll just take a quick glance at the fruits and goes “I don’t like to eat that!” without even trying.

So, I set the “You have to try it” rule. He must at least take a bite and try it before saying NO. It helps to a certain extent – at least he knows the taste of it, and not rejecting it purely based on its appearance. Most importantly, he gives it a try.

Two years ago when Edison was three, he ate only three types of fruits – oranges, strawberries and grapes. Now that he is five, he eats almost all types of fruits, except certain exotic fruits like mangosteens and durians.

Two years of hard works and experiments have finally paid-off! Today, I’ve narrowed down five useful tips that I’ve learnt to encourage our children to eat fruits:

1. Bring them along for supermarket shopping

When you bring your kids to the supermarket, show them the various types of fruits and how to select the ripe and fresh ones. Usually, I’ll also ask him what he wants to eat before buying them. It gives him some ‘ownership’ and he’ll likely to eat them.

2. Be a role model

If you’re eating a wide range of fruits — and enjoying them — your child may want to taste them as well. With the same logic, if you aren’t eating junk food or keeping them at home, your kids won’t be eating junk food at home either. So, it’s important to be a role model for our children.

3. Present the fruits nicely

Cut the fruits into small bite-size and arrange it nicely on an attractive plate. A beautiful fruits presentation is important to attract the fussy eaters. Nonetheless, never force your child to eat or use food as a form of punishment or reward.

4. Offer them choices but within limits

Too many choices can overwhelm a small child. It’s too open ended to ask, “What would you like for eat?” It may also trigger a mealtime meltdown. Instead, offer them a few choices, such as choosing between an apple, orange or strawberries after their meal.

5. Eat together as a family

Family dining is the perfect time to help our kids develop healthy attitudes towards food and the social aspects of eating with others.

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Does your child dislike fruits? If so, how do you encourage him/her to eat more fruits? I love to hear your tips too; do share if you have any.

 

Eating Problems Revisited

I’ve never heard a mother says that her child eats well. Maybe it’s because a mother can never be satisfied with how much her child eats, or it’s because she is afraid to say aloud that her child eats well, for fear of a jinx or ‘pantang’. Whatever.

A friend of mine consulted me on her son’s eating problem lately. Honestly, I fretted a lot about Little Edison’s picky eating behavior two years ago. I always felt that he never ate enough. There were days that he didn’t eat anything at all. We were so worried that we started supplementing him with more milk.

But soon, I realized that this wasn’t a wise move. When we fed him with more milk, he became full and he will continue to reject solid foods. Then, I would try to distract him, or make the food more interesting and appealing by adding something that he likes to it. I would try everything possible for a chance to feed more spoons of food into his mouth.

In the end, I realized that it’s a complete waste of time, energy as well as efforts. It’s just too mentally-draining for both of us. We’re happier if I just let go whenever he announced that he has had enough. Interestingly enough, without the stress factor, he seemed to eat more too.

I’ve also observed that if he eats nothing at breakfast, he tends to eat a hearty lunch. Or if he nibbles at his lunch, he will have a huge dinner. In another words, if he starves today, he gorges tomorrow. So ultimately, he does make up for it. With great difficulty, I have learnt not to worry about his feeding problem and to trust his instincts.

Every child is different, and all we need to do is identify and recognize their own special characteristics. Little Edison, for example, cannot eat too much at one go. I have to give him smaller portion of food with regular intervals. He takes a long time to chew on vegetables, so I let him eats his fish, meat and rice first, followed by vegetables. I will give him fruits after that.

Most parenting books warn us no TV during meals but somehow, TV works wonders for me. When the TV is on, he will sit still to watch while I feed him. This way, he will be able to finish his meal although he may take a longer time. I have my patience tested every day now, as he takes at least 45 minutes to finish his meal.

Some rules of thumb to share:

  • No junk food, snacks, milk and juices at least one hour before mealtime.
  • Don’t serve a meal with drink but serve it after the meal.
  • Feed with patience, no force-feed or threaten to take away food. Otherwise, the kids will start to associate mealtimes with negative behaviours.
  • Lastly, the child should decide when he / she is full, not us.

Here’s an interesting fact to share. Experts say that fussy eaters usually develop after the weaning stage, until the age of four. The problem usually resolves itself by the preschool years. I find that it is quite true. Now, our Little Edison really does eat better than two years ago.