Kids who are scared to try new foods
Tears. A lot of them. And deep, shuddering breathing too, like they were genuinely scared. Believe it or not this was the reaction of my friend's five year old when presented with a ham
and cheese omelette, cooked by dad, for lunch.
Sometimes the reaction of children to unknown meals, to tastes and textures they aren't familiar with, or simply to a different presentation of food, can baffle us. This child eats eggs in different forms...not a favourite food, but passable....and they eat cheese too. Ham, not so much. But the presentation of this combination of ingredients left them crying and shying away from the table, much to the understandable frustration of the chef. Even the presence of a favourite food...baked beans...on the plate did nothing to appease.
Responding to fussy eaters
So how did these parents handle it? Well, there was a bit of frustration expressed as 'stop moaning, that's what's for lunch...'. But pretty quickly it became apparent this wasn't moaning for the
sake of being difficult, but a genuine apprehension about eating that meal. So I asked myself...is that so unreasonable a reaction?
It might sound crazy, but have you ever watched a bush tucker trial? (No, I won't admit to watching "I'm a celebrity..." these days, but I did in the dim and distant past when it was first on.) The idea of putting a grub or, heaven forbid, an eyeball, into my mouth would leave me close to retching. I once watched my teenage nieces, who are game for anything, try sheep's brain. Could they have persuaded me to eat that? No chance.
Ok, I admit, the examples I'm citing are at the edges of culinary experience and by no means crucial to a normal, balanced diet. But the point remains the same....if an adult can feel apprehension and revulsion at the idea of putting something into their mouth (which won't hurt them...they just might not like it much, and we've all used that line on our kids, right?) then why shouldn't a child feel the same?
How can we help children who won't eat?
Enter the Gotrovo Mealtime Treasure Hunt.
Having calmed the child down by taking them out of the room for a few minutes, my friend moved the food onto their Gotrovo mealtime treasure hunt plate, placed it on the treasure hunt-themed dinner mat (after the child chose which version of the double-sided treasure mat they wanted to use), and gave them the golden coin to place on the start position. It took a bit of encouragement to get the first mouthful in, but with gentle support and positivity, and the absence of frustration, the meal was soon well under way.
Helping children to try new foods and eat healthily
By way of compromise they excluded the ham...one step at a time, after all. They interspersed mouthfuls of omelette with mouthfuls of baked beans. And they chatted calmly about what they could see on the treasure map.
How many flying fish could they count?
How many more steps to get to number 8 on the trail?
What does N, E, S, and W mean on a compass....and which direction were they travelling in now?
Quickly the tension disappeared, and with it the apprehension. They didn't finish the plate...they used the shortcut to make it to the end of the trail as the child had tried really hard and
eaten enough. It's not about a clean plate, it's about trying new things and feeling a positive sense of achievement at the end. And so the meal lasted 15 pleasant minutes and not 45 tearful
ones, and afterwards I'm reliably told the child said....'I think that omelette helped my tummy, I think we should try it again one day'.
That's testament to a successful product...maybe you can make an omelette without breaking too many eggs!
To find out more about Gotrovo mealtime treasure hunt and how it could help you, click here. Or you can read the views of a nutritional therapist here. It doesn't just work for omelettes! It's a great tool to help children enjoy eating healthy foods and work towards a balanced diet.
Disclaimer: we make no scientific or medical claims with respect to this product. The Gotrovo Mealtime Treasure Hunt is a tool to encourage healthy eating and good mealtime behaviours. It is not a substitute for healthy, balanced eating choices.