Dealing with Picky Eaters

Dealing with Picky Eaters

How leading dietitian and mum of two handles picky eaters and dining out with her kids

Susie Burrell is one of Australia’s leading dietitians who has a Honours degrees in Nutrition and Psychology and Masters in Coaching Psychology. Susie is especially known for her practical, easy to understand approach to diet, nutrition and wellbeing. Susie is the ambassador of family-owned company, Mayver’s and is encouraging more kids and families to include nuts and good fats in their diets.

How can we feed our kids better?

Children, especially young children will ultimately eat what foods are on offer. This means if parents consistently offer chips and chicken nuggets then they will eat them. The best step we can take towards healthy eating when eating out is to offer healthier options when possible. Kids will only get used to eating healthy foods if they are the default.

What are the pitfalls to avoid?

It’s important to avoid giving kids too much say in what they eat, especially under the age of 10. Keeping unhealthy foods in the home and then expecting kids to choose healthier options is unrealistic. Also try to avoid constant bargaining and negotiating meals and snacks. Parents needs to feel confident in taking control of the food environment at home. Planning ahead to feed our children? I plan my meals each week by grabbing a set list of staples that will provide dinners for 3-4 nights, as well as lunch and snacks for the entire family. The meals I cook each weekend generally take 10-15 minutes – think meat, chicken, fish and vegetables. I also cook 1-2 larger meals each weekend -think spag bol, pies or lasagne. This is so I always have something on hand that I can heat up for busier days. I bake some healthy snacks for school lunches each weekend such as wholemeal cookies or banana bread. Great snack options for during and after school include fruit and veggie slices, Mayver’s Goodness to Go peanut butter packs and roasted broad beans. This way I spend about 30-45 minutes in the kitchen each evening, which takes care of both lunch, dinner and any snacks I need for the day ahead.

What are good substitutions for unhealthy foods kids tend to be drawn towards? 

My go-to picks to substitute unhealthy foods are grilled chicken strips rather than nuggets, sparking water rather than juice, wholemeal bread rather than white, 100% natural peanut butter rather than chocolate spread, grilled fish rather than fried, fresh fruit rather than dried, chopped vegetables and roasted beans rather than chips, fruit gelato rather than ice blocks. The list can go on!

What are some great choices when dining out with kids?

I would always encourage adults and kids to eat similar meals, so kids learn what eating out is about – kid-sized burgers, grilled chicken strips, thin pizza and pasta with tomato sauce are all good choices. Another tip is to share extras such as bread and fries so everyone eats some but eats less overall!