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Few things are more desperate for parents than having children who refuse to eat.
Many children are crafty at the time of the meal and it is difficult to give them something new.
But even if I despair that your little or little girl rejects or spits out what you prepared her with so much love and care, keep in mind that it is not her fault!
In recent years it has been discovered that the reason why children are fussy about food is genetic , especially if it is about trying new things.
It has to do with our prehistoric past, when humans began to incorporate new plants into their diet.
Many of these plants could contain toxins , which in the case of children could be fatal.
That is why our brains adapted to distrust and reject food that is unfamiliar to us.
However, science has also determined that we should not lose hope because the children’s eating habits can be modified .
Psychologist Clare Llewellyn of University College London (UCL) listed the BBC’s five strategies that we can adopt so children can eat everything.
1 – Test 20 times
If your little or little girl refuses a specific meal or refuses to even try something, try to offer a very small amount of that food for 20 days in a row .
There is research that shows that doing this reduces the “fear factor” and increases the familiarity of the food, making it much more likely that your son or daughter will try it.
He is the famous one persevere and you will triumph!
2 – Half and half
Many parents already know that children imitate their behavior and that they should also eat healthy if they want their children to do the same.
“The best way to get children to eat something in particular is to eat it on a par with him and in front of him or her,” advises Dr. Llewellyn.
“For example, you can take a piece of food, cut it in the middle, eat half of it and mention how tasty it looks.
Then you offer the other half to your child. “That way he learns that it’s safe to eat it,” he explains.
3 – Do not press!
When you spent twenty minutes trying to convince a stubborn child to try a bite of something it is understandable that you fall into the threats .
“If you do not eat your broccoli you will not go to play”, it is typical. Or “if you do not finish your carrots mom will be very upset”.
But experts say that all kinds of pressure is useless .
“Research shows that all these strategies in fact lead children to have even greater aversion to that food you want them to taste,” says the psychologist.
So you know: patience!
4 – Incentive
The specialists advise that you put aside the stick and adopt the strategy of the carrot.
It is known that young children love to be praised . Studies also show that they are willing to do many things in exchange for a reward .
Taking advantage of this, Llewellyn recommends motivating them a lot, letting them know that it is a great challenge to try something new and celebrating a lot when they do it.
You can also offer more tangible rewards, such as stickers, stickers or pins.
Another popular resource is a ” star chart “: a graphic that you can hang on your wall or refrigerator and place stars every time your son or daughter ate well.
British cook Annabel Karmel, who specializes in children’s meals, told the BBC that another way to encourage good eating habits is to pay close attention to how food is presented .
“Children often say, ‘I’m not going to eat that because it looks disgusting.'” It’s a fear of something new and they do not dare to taste a bite, “he said.
The solution? Put the new food into something you already know, for example, a cake, reducing your fear of trying it. Or give it a fun way, making the experience more fun.
5 – Never prey with food
But although the rewards serve, Llewellyn cautions that dessert should never be used as an incentive.
Who has not ever told a child: ‘If you eat your vegetables, can you eat ice cream for dessert’? “
“It does not solve the problem: it has been scientifically proven that this strategy makes children hate problematic food even more,” says the psychologist.
But, worse, you will also create a new problem.
“You increase the taste of your child for the food you use as a reward, which is usually something unhealthy,” warns the expert.