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Cabbage, onions, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts are among the top foods that children are most likely to turn their nose up at, according to a study.
A poll of 1,000 mums and dads, with children aged five to 11, revealed that one in seven (14%) believe their child is a fussy eater – with common complaints about having to eat cauliflower, broccoli, and fish.
Fussy kids typically turn up their nose at food four times a week – leaving their parents feeling disappointed (20%), confused (20%), and even embarrassed (22%).
And 82% of the parents polled get frustrated when their child won’t eat the food they’ve cooked, while nine in ten worry about their offspring’s overall health due to them being picky.
But 92% of parents of picky eaters have hidden foods such as fruit and vegetables in a meal, so their youngster unknowingly eats them.
Eva Hill Hamilton, clinical nutritionist for VIVIO Junior Multivitamin, which commissioned the research, said: “Ensuring your child eats a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to get those all-important vitamins and minerals in their diet is no easy task for parents.
“It’s clear from the research that mums and dads can feel frustrated, and even ashamed, if their child is fussy when it comes to food.
“The majority of foods youngsters seem to dislike are those that will provide the most beneficial nutrients for your child’s overall health and immunity – so it’s important for fussy eaters in particular to get the right levels of vitamins from somewhere else.”
The study also found the most common complaint of fussy eaters is having too much of one type of food on the plate, and not enough of something else.
Other grumbles included not liking food with bits in it, having too much flavour, and disliking the colour or the physical appearance.
In response, parents of fussy eaters have tried hacks such as the “try it once” rule (15%), where kids must eat a mouthful of the food in question before they can say if they like it or not.
Others have banned their youngster from snacking on anything unhealthy until they’ve eaten a piece of fruit (12%), and only allowing dessert if all the vegetables have been eaten (11%) – with 87% of those who have tried such methods having some success.
Nation's top 20 favourite vegetables revealed – with potatoes topping the list
It also emerged nearly three-quarters (69%) of those with picky children worry their own fussiness has been passed down.
Among the foods parents don’t eat which their child also refuses to try are beetroot (13%), peaches (11%), and fish (10%).
It also emerged that 90% of parents worry about their child’s overall health due to fussy eating, and four in five feel their child doesn’t get all of the nutrients they need in their diet alone.
And a quarter (24%) of the parents polled, via OnePoll, believe their child’s overall diet has an impact on how susceptible they are to catching germs.
The typical 5-11-year-old has had four days off school due to illness in the past 12 months – but as many as one in eight (13%) has taken off up to nine days.
Eva Hill Hamilton added: “The vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables help to strengthen a child’s immunity, growth, and cognitive function.
“So for any fussy eaters, I would always recommend including a multivitamin tonic to bridge any nutrient deficiency gaps.
“If your child is struck down with a winter cough, look out for natural remedies that soothe the symptoms without suppressing it, as coughs are a natural defence mechanism to clear and protect the body.”
TOP 30 FOODS KIDS ARE FUSSY ABOUT:
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet potato
- Bell peppers
- Green beans
- Baked beans
EVA HILL HAMILTON'S TIPS FOR PARENTS OF A FUSSY EATER:
- MAKE IT FUN. Have a day of the week where the whole family chooses a new fruit or vegetable to try. Take it in turns to talk about how it tastes, looks, and smells. This will encourage your child’s curiosity around food and spark their interest.
- GIVE THEM CONTROL. Children tend to be more adventurous in trying foods when they’ve had a role to play themselves, so try to involve your little ones in preparing and even growing foods – you don’t need a large garden, just a few pots is fine.
- BE CREATIVE. Introduce vegetables in an unusual way, such as kale crisps – easy to make and kids tend to love them. For protein, meatballs with a tasty vegetable sauce, or fishcakes in fun fishy shapes.
- ENCOURAGE MINDFUL MEALTIMES. Avoid distractions at mealtimes, such as having tablets at the dinner table or toys, and instead encourage your child to be present and notice the colours, flavours, and textures of the food. Connecting with the food in this way helps children to better digest and enjoy their food.
- DON'T FORCE IT. Adding pressure will only encourage your child to have negative feelings towards eating and mealtimes, so keep it light-hearted – and if your child doesn’t like a certain food, calmly take it away and try again next time.
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