Do your children eat their veg?

A survey carried out for food company Heinz suggests almost half of British children refuse to eat vegetables. The survey asked 2,000 parents about their children’s eating habits, and discovered 75 percent are worried or concerned about their little ones’ fussy eating.

Most parents – 66 percent – also said trying to get their children to eat healthily is stressful, with 52 percent claiming their child’s refusal to eat healthy foods is a major issue. Of the parents taking part in the study, 82 percent said their children refuse to eat some foods. And vegetables are the main cause for concern.

For instance, 43 percent of children refuse to eat cabbage, while 39 percent refuse to eat spinach, broccoli or mushrooms, and 35 percent won’t eat beetroot or kale. One in 10 children won’t even eat an apple.

The stress of dealing with fussy eaters is getting the nation’s parents down, the survey suggests, with 59 percent saying they often feel at their wits’ end at mealtimes. Sixty percent of parents say they find family mealtimes stressful, with 47 percent claiming they avoid going to restaurants with their children because of their fussy eating habits. And unfortunately the problem has led more than six out of 10 parents to cave in and give their children something high in sugar, salt or fat, simply to avoid a scene.

Tips for dealing with fussy eaters

However, there are ways of getting children to eat healthily. Try making them milk shakes by blending a banana or a few strawberries into some milk, or add pureed veg such as sweet potato, carrots, swede or butternut squash to mashed potato.

You could also try the following:

  • Always give a child small portions. Fussy eaters feel overwhelmed when faced with a big meal.
  • Try to think of new ways of presenting foods your children say they don’t like. Kids often say they don’t like certain foods, but what they may mean is they don’t like the way they’re presented.
  • Set them a good example and make sure your own diet is healthy (children often don’t eat vegetables because their parents don’t eat them either).
  • Try to make mealtimes fun. Invite your children’s friends around for tea regularly (especially other children who are good eaters). Introduce new foods in a fun way too – at a picnic, for instance, or a doll’s tea party – as it helps associate those foods with having a good time.
  • Praise your child whenever they eat a new food and try not to react negatively when they refuse to eat something.

Remember that children go through phases where food is concerned. Just because they don’t like something one week, it doesn’t mean that they won’t eat it the next.

Because some children don’t eat a varied diet, they could be missing out on essential vitamins. If you’re concerned about your child, your local Careway pharmacist can tell you about the range of supplements for children available (always ask your pharmacist for advice before giving children vitamin supplements,). Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.