You only have a few strands of hair left after pulling it out left right and centre while trying to get your fussy kids (or partner) to eat well.
Dinners are exhausting, your kids (and/or partner) are complaining and just like the steam from their untouched food you find yourself dissipate into the air.
Finally, you CRACK IT!!! The family stares silently as you get up and make your way over to the oven to turn it onto high temperature. Your kids (and/or partner) watch you intently with curiosity. “What’s she going to do?” they think to themselves.
You pull out the oven tray and dramatically slam it down on the bench for emphasis. Your audience at the dinner table gasp. At this point they are a little bit frightened. “Has she gone mad?” Finally, opening the freezer door you pull out a big bag of “chicken” (we’re assuming) nuggets. Your audience squeals and claps with delight! You let out a deep, heaving sigh because you just don’t care anymore. All that matters to you right now is that the little (or big if referring to your partner) s***s to eat SOMETHING!!!!
Well I hear ya sister (or brother, men have this issue too). There is nothing more frustrating than a fussy eater when you have put your heart and soul into the cooking process. Sometimes it takes all of your will power not to pick up the dinner plate and place it on top of their head. The only thing stopping you is the mess that you would have to clean up afterwards (let’s be honest).
However, if you’ve got fussy eaters to deal with, sometimes you need to let go of your worry and frustration surrounding their limited food range and work with what you can. Often the fussy eating isn’t even about the food itself as most children are merely exercising their need to be independent.
For others, particularly those that fall along that autism spectrum, fussy eating isn’t so much “fussy eating” but more to do with a feeding issue. This could be related to their highly sensitive sensory system being overwhelmed and dysregulated by taste, textures, colours and sounds of the food that they are eating and/or the environment that they’re eating in (stressful?), or it could be due to motility issues and lack of muscle tone necessary for effective chewing and swallowing of food. If you want to read more about feeding issues and autism, then I strongly recommend that you click here http://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/docs/sciencedocs/atn/feeding_guide.pdf
Working with Fussy Eaters
Knowing the underlying causes of fussy eating can empower you to change tactics. If your child has a particular food that they absolutely love (say chicken nuggets), think about how can you alter that food to make it enjoyable for them yet healthy enough that they are at least getting some quality protein, vitamins and minerals into their system.
For other foods like fruits and vegetables, continue offering them to your children at meal times but do it with a change of game plan. Rather than forcing your child to eat these types of foods and panic when they don’t, offer them in small portions and make meal time a happy time by allowing your child to exercise their curiosity by touching, playing with and tasting the food. Any small step in broadening their food horizons should be rewarded with much encouragement and praise, even when it doesn’t make it into their mouth. Sometimes it can take 10-15 times of seeing the food on their plate before the child begins to accept it, so please don’t lose hope!
Another great tactic is getting to know what food textures your child loves and trying to create the same with fruit or vegetables. Do they like crunchy textures? Try making home-made veggie chips! Do they prefer soft and mushy? Get out your food processor (or go buy one) and start pureeing! Encourage your kids to get involved in with the cooking process and empower them by allowing them to make choices about what to create. Not only will your kids love being in the kitchen, it also enables some beautiful bonding between you as well.
Want more handy tips on fussy eating? Check out this link http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/fussy_eating.html
Back to Nuggets
If you want to make a start on changing up your child’s food journey, then have a crack at transforming an old favourite, ‘The Chicken Nugget,’ into a more nourishing form filled with quality protein, vitamins and minerals. I’m sure your fussy kids (and partner) will love them! I know some fussy eaters who did! Check out my recipe below.
Honey Mustard Chicken Nuggets (Gluten free and Dairy free)
500g of free range chicken breast, sliced into 2-3cm pieces
1 cup of almonds
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
Honey Mustard Sauce
1 tb of virgin olive oil
1 tb of honey (raw is even better)
2 tsp of mustard
2 free range eggs
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
Turn oven onto 180C (fan forced)
Throw almonds and coconut into a food processor and process into a meal. Remove and scoop into a separate bowl.
Throw honey mustard ingredients into the food processor and mix into a smooth liquid. Scoop into another separate bowl.
Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper. Dip and coat individual chicken pieces into the honey mustard sauce first and then coat with the almond/coconut meal.
Lay chicken pieces out onto the oven tray and then chuck into the oven. Bake for 15-20min until cooked through.
Serve up with a small side of salad or cooked veggies. If your kids don’t eat the salad/veggies the first time around, try and try and try again. Enjoy! 🙂