Welcome back to the Pipin Pear Academy!
This week we are joined by the fabulous Nutritional Therapist, Jemma Kehoe!
Jemma has been in the healthcare sector for 20 years and is a registered nutritional therapist. She has been practicing for over 10 years! Today, Jemma is answering your questions in easy to understand language and is here to give you helpful and practical advice for you and your little one’s nutritional needs! From pregnancy to snacking, she’s got you covered!
For more helpful information, make sure to visit Jemma’s website, jemmakehoenutrition.com
The article has been edited for clarity from video content. To view the full video, visit our Facebook or Instagram page.
“My child only wants to eat one type of food! What should I do?”
This comes up a lot! The first thing I would say is it is really normal and natural for your child to exert some control and some independence through their food. Let’s be honest, so much of their activities, where they go, what they do, what they wear, when they sleep, is dictated by us. As they start to grow into their little personalities, they realise they can have an influence on the world, they will try and find ways in which they can do it and unfortunately for us as the parents who are trying to feed them well, one of the first ways they do this is controlling their food snd what goes on their plate.
Start as you mean to go on.
I’m a big fan of don’t give them the foods that you really don’t want them eating. That may well be outside the home, obviously, some foods are more nutritious and healthier than others. You might want to go out and eat as a family in a restaurant and maybe choose something off the menu that you wouldn’t normally have at home. That’s okay from time to time! But at home, you’re in charge. You dictate what goes on their plate. By all means get them involved, it’s a great way to get them interested in food. Get them into the kitchen while you’re chopping or preparing. Depending on their age they may be able to help you physically and peel some veggies but if they’re too young, they may be able to wash things at the sink for you, you can be having the chats about the colours, smells and flavours.
I would hear from a lot of parents that their child loves pasta and will only eat bowls of dry pasta. Please don’t feel obliged to serve that as the only dish because you think “Oh well, if they eat that, at least it’s something.” Unfortunately, if you keep feeding it to them, they’ll keep looking for it and wanting it. So my advice would be to try in little ways to branch out and serve different things. So maybe they have pasta at lunchtime, they don’t let them snack too much in the afternoon so they’ve a really good hunger. – Hunger is an amazing sauce! -. We want them to be relatively hunger, obviously not starving, but hungry for their mealtimes so by the time it comes around to eating, they’ll be more receptive to new foods. It does take a while for kids to accept a new food – up to 7 tries or more!
The most important thing is to keep presenting them with new options.
You can offer them some of these options. For example for dinner, if they’re not great with their veggies, they’re fine with carrots but maybe not so good with the greens. Perhaps you have been struggling to get them to try some peas or broccoli, offer them the choice. “There is some veg going on your dinner plate, would you prefer peas or broccoli?” If they don’t choose an answer, by all means choose for them! Perhaps try jazz the veggies up a little bit, who really likes just plain broccoli with a nice sauce?! Maybe a nice gravy made from meat juices, maybe a little bit of real butter on their veggies, just something to make it a little bit more interesting. Those types of foods, even real butter, are great sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin K – nutrients that are very important for immune health, for growth and development.
The other thing to remember with fussy eaters or picky eaters, sometimes it’s actually nutrient deficiencies. So if you’re deficient in minerals like Zinc, it can impact on a child’s appetite. It might be that they genuinely don’t have a huge hunger for food. In that instance, if you feel that perhaps your child was sick a while ago and that changed their appetite slightly , it could be worthwhile picking up a kiddie multivitamin. This depends on their age so do go ask in a pharmacy for recommendations for multivitamins suitable to your child age. Make sure it has a bit of nutrients in it as lacking something like Zinc can affect their appetite.
Don’t give it airtime!
Lastly, when trying new foods, don’t offer it too much ‘airtime’. At the mealtime, everyone is sitting down together as much as possible, what’s on the plate, is on the plate. It would pretty much the same for the whole family. If your child chooses not to eat it, then that’s okay. Try not give that too much airtime and move on. If they’re a little bit hungry later, you can perhaps offer them something that was left from dinner, not one of those foods that they will only eat as “That’s just not on the menu right now!”
To summarise, it will take your child a while to accept to new foods. Don’t forget kids have an amazing way to thrive and grow, regardless of how they eat. Obviously it’s not optimal, you want them eating a nice diverse diet with loads of different types of foods in it. Know that they will be okay, they will grow, they will thrive, they won’t starve, they will be okay. Just keep trying.
“How often should I give my toddler a snack?”
This is a really big question and what I would say is it is important to look at your child in isolation. You may have a friend that has a child the exact same age as yours but they’re totally different children. One is really active and busier, the other could be inclined to not be on the move as much. You need to really look at their appetite.
It’s very normal for a lot of people to offer their toddler or young child, 3 meals a day and maybe one to two snacks. That would be very common but again, look at their appetite. I would be saying, if you can get them to the table and they have three good meals a day, they don’t tend to really look for much food between meals, then perfect. You don’t have to give them those snacks, provided they’re having good solid meals.
However, you do have some kids that are just really busy and active and have great appetites and do want those snacks. So try and tune into that as much as possible. But you would be aiming for around 3 good meals and 2 snacks a day.