Even fussy eaters love Halloween
Neil from 'Progressive Family Food' has joined forces with Katy Ashworth from Cbeebies to share tips and recipes with Raring2go! to make your life easier if you have fussy eaters, and to provide strategies to help improve your child's relationship with food and make mealtimes less stressful.
Here, Neil and Katy talk about how to use Halloween as an opportunity to help introduce kids to new foods.
Halloween is becoming increasingly popular in the UK and for many kids their favourite aspect is the abundance of sweets that seem to be at the core of this festivity. For many parents, Halloween is simply a time when they have to stress about trying to control the amount of sugar that is being consumed by their kids BUT it is possible to use the excitement of Halloween to our advantage.
Getting kids to try new foods is the #1 complaint that parents of fussy eaters have. Even for children who would not be considered fussy it is often difficult to get then eat a variety of food. Halloween can be great opportunity to try new things at the dinner table.
The spirit of Halloween is ghoulish and with it comes all sorts of weird and wonderful foods. This is a great opportunity to make food look strange while kids are keen to be involved. Kids often associate new foods as being boring or bad or too healthy and this results in resistance. If we can show kids that new foods can be interesting and fun then this help break down the barriers that are in place.
Halloween comes with spooky pumpkin carvings, screaming bananas, ghostly sausage rolls, devilled eggs with olive spiders and stuffed ‘Jack-o-lantern’ peppers. At Halloween, more than any other time of the year, defences are down with regards new foods and enthusiasm is high so we can use this to our advantage to try new things. Take the opportunity to introduce new tastes, textures, combinations and food experiences
We have to manage our expectation when feeding kids and understand that while our offspring may be enthusiastic about Halloween roasted peppers today, they may refuse them next week or even tomorrow when they do not have the spooky faces. Dealing with disappointment and irrational behaviours is all part of the parent’s role in building positive relationships between kids and their food, we have to take it in our stride and not take it personally. Perseverance is vital and new food exposure and an ongoing drive to regularly introduce a variety of foods and experiences will have a lasting effect.
But what should we do about the sugar overload that accompanies some healthier options? All the Halloween sweets don’t have to be eaten in one day…. but there is also another important lesson that can be learned here. Yes, we can police the consumption of sweets and encourage that they be eaten gradually over a period of time but allowing kids to understand moderation is also important. Being able to listen to your body and identify the feeling of fullness and when enough is enough is an essential skill for kids. Learning from mistakes can be key element of gaining this understanding. No parent wants their child to be unwell…. but allowing them to eat too much can be an important lesson, within reason. Understanding the spectrum from hunger to fullness is a vital skill.
We once allowed our son to eat as many sweets as he like (within reason). He ate quite a lot and that evening, whilst bouncing on his bed in a sugar frenzy, he proceeded to throw up and subsequently cry. It was an unpleasant experience for all concerned (especially his poor parents who had to clear up sickly sweet vomit!) but now if you ask him what happens if you eat too many sweet his answer is “you will be sick”….. and he now understands moderation and has gained some really important understanding about his body. For legal reasons, I don’t think we are allowed to encourage any child to be unwell…. a bit of an overload can be an important learning experience!
This recipe for Halloween Stuffed Peppers and strategy is a collaboration between Katy Ashworth and Neil Welsh. Katy presents the Cbeebies flagship cookery show ‘I Can Cook’ and is a mother who is passionate about healthy living. Neil works with parents of fussy eaters, helping them win their battles with their fussy eaters whilst building a solid food foundation for kids for life. More information can be found at www.progressivefamilyfood.com
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