The simple hack to get fussy eaters to eat more veg
An adult portion of veg is 80g or 3 heaped tablespoons, but if you don't have a set of scales to hand an easy way to measure a portion is with the palm of your hand – one palmful of veg equals one portion. This works for kids too. They have smaller palms and need smaller portions! If you add a couple of palm-sized spoonfuls of this sauce to pasta or a pizza it'll count as two portions of that all-important (at least) five-a-day.
If you have fussy kids, keep offering them lots of different fruit and veg, but try to avoid putting too much pressure on. The NHS says the trick is not to worry about what they eat in a day or whether they eat everything at mealtimes, but instead think about what they eat over a week.
Here are top tips for feeding fussy pre-school children and toddlers from Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author of 'The Gentle Eating Book: The Easier, Calmer Approach to Feeding Your Child and Solving Common Eating Problems’.
- Take pressure off. If you cajole, bribe, cheer, clap or reward them for eating, they are less likely to eat the food again of their own accord. Similarly, if you restrict certain more palatable foods or use them as a reward, for instance offering dessert if they eat all their main meal, they are more likely to struggle with self-regulating in the future.
- Forget punishments. Punishing a child for fussy eating is unlikely to improve the situation, and it could make it worse. Try to avoid making a fuss if they refuse to eat a food or if they eat something new.
- Make food fun. If you can, grow veg together, visit farmer's markets, cook together and play with food – for instance, carrot and potato printing or making broccoli trees to hide dinosaurs in. Read story books featuring different foods, watch cartoons with their favourite characters eating adventurously and consider buying plates featuring pictures of vegetables.
- Go back to instinctive eating. Trust your child if they say they're hungry, even if they have just eaten – and if they say they're not, even if they've not eaten for hours.