How to get fussy eaters to eat more vegetables
Focusing on healthy eating can be a challenge for busy parents – especially if your child is a fussy eater. Fussy eating often develops around the age of 3-4 years as children become more independent and want to take charge of their own food choices. Some children are more sensitive than others to different tastes and textures and may be reluctant to try even a small taste of new foods. We are all born with ‘neophobia’, or ‘fear of the new’, and trying new foods can be part of this anxiety. For parents this can be frustrating but it is important to stay calm, not give up and to continue encouraging your ‘fussy eater’ to try new foods, especially vegetables and fruits.
Research shows that greater exposure to a wider variety of vegetables and fruit in a child’s early years will make them more likely to enjoy a wider range of these foods throughout life. It might take a child 9-10 times of trying a new food over a few weeks before it becomes familiar and they lose their anxiety and can start to enjoy the food. It can be helpful to let a child initially just touch, smell or maybe lick the food rather than expecting them to actually eat a new vegetable or fruit as part of a meal. 141,142,143
Children learn through play and role modelling. Try involving them in choosing new fruits and vegetables while shopping, and in cooking and preparing new foods. As a parent if you are prepared to try new foods, your child will be more likely to do the same.
Finding new nutritious foods that your family enjoys can help you make the most of your food budget. Avocado is a fruit that is packed full of nutrition and its smooth texture makes it easy to include as a nutritious addition to school and work lunches. Try avocados as a spread on bread, in dips with vegetable sticks or on crackers, as a healthy school or work snack; or you can even add some chopped avocados to your salads and pasta dishes. Australian Avocados provides a variety of healthy school or work lunch box ideas and you will find lots of other avocado nutrition related information on our website.
Senior Nutritionist & Nutrition Program Manager
Nutrition Australia Qld