You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Lifestyle Top Stories

Roxy Jacenko's kids' nutritionist reveals the nine things parents can do to beat their children's fussy eating - and the one trick that will have them enjoying everything

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 12/10/2018 Billie Schwab Dunn For Daily Mail Australia

a mother and child sitting at a table: The mother-of-two said positivity and patience is important and parents shouldn't be disheartened if they're children don't react instantly to these changes  © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The mother-of-two said positivity and patience is important and parents shouldn't be disheartened if they're children don't react instantly to these changes  Dealing with fussy eaters is the bane of many parents' existence, but now one nutritionist has revealed the best ways to overcome it.

Sydney-based Mandy Sacher, who is the nutritionist for Roxy Jacenko's children Pixie and Hunter, has revealed the strategies she uses to overcome 'food refusal'. 

She explained that fussy eating can often surface between the ages of two and six and is luckily a phase most children grow out of. 

'Each family's situation is unique and success with mealtimes needs to be measured accordingly,' she said in a blog post.

'For one child, moving from one vegetable to two vegetables daily is a huge success. For another child, eating a meatball in tomato sauce is a big win!'.

Here FEMAIL looks at Mandy's top nine tips for parents. 

Desensitise children to meals

Mandy said it's important to encourage children to touch, smell and engage with their food.

She explained that this helps to desensitise them towards the foods that they are uncertain about and reluctant to eat.

'Getting them to put items in the shopping trolley, helping prepare food at mealtimes and carrying dishes to the table are good places to start,' she said.

The mother-of-two added that positivity and patience is important and parents shouldn't be disheartened if they're children don't react instantly to these changes.

a little girl standing in a room: Mandy is the nutritionist for Roxy Jacenko's children Pixie and Hunter and has helped change their attitude towards food © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mandy is the nutritionist for Roxy Jacenko's children Pixie and Hunter and has helped change their attitude towards food a plate of food on a table: Mandy said it's important to encourage children to touch, smell and engage with their food © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mandy said it's important to encourage children to touch, smell and engage with their food Serve new foods regularly 

Mandy told parents that they should make new foods familiar by repeatedly offering them in a relaxed environment.

'Repeated offerings of unfamiliar food aids in helping children become comfortable with new flavours and textures,' she said.

'Try offering these same foods in different ways – cut into fun shapes, assembled in colour patterns or even try different ways of cooking (eg. roasted carrots instead of raw).'

a woman sitting at a table with a plate of food: Mandy told parents that they should make new foods familiar by repeatedly offering them in a relaxed environment © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mandy told parents that they should make new foods familiar by repeatedly offering them in a relaxed environment Incorporate 'messy play' 

Mandy explained that 'messy play' is a therapeutic technique that she encourages people to use if they have babies and children with sensory issues.

This allows children to touch and explore their food, which helps to desensitise them.

It doesn't have to take place during mealtimes either, as long as there is no pressure to eat the food being explored.

a plate of food on a table: 'Repeated offerings of unfamiliar food aids in helping children become comfortable with new flavours and textures,' she said © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited 'Repeated offerings of unfamiliar food aids in helping children become comfortable with new flavours and textures,' she said Have family mealtimes - and make them fun 

Mandy said it's important for families make an attempt to eat together as often as possible.

This is so parents are able to model a healthy of healthy and nutritious food.

She also said it's important that when families have dinner together it should be as enjoyable as possible to ease any anxiety the fussy eater might have. 

Share 'fun facts' 

To help children make the connection with the fact that food provides their bodies with energy and is helping them grow, Mandy said people should educate them in a fun way. 

'Reading books about the benefits of health and various vitamins is a creative way to encourage acceptance of healthy and nutritious foods,' she said.

a woman sitting on a table: Mandy said people need to educate their children about the impact of food in a fun way © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mandy said people need to educate their children about the impact of food in a fun way a group of people sitting at a table: Mandy said it's important families make an attempt to eat together as often as possible © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mandy said it's important families make an attempt to eat together as often as possible Work with what they already like 

'For instance, if you really want your child to eat homemade potato chips or sweet potato chips and you know they love crunchy food, it’s best not to make huge, fat wedge-shaped chips,' she explained.

'Rather, using a peeler, grate the potatoes really finely and bake them for 25–30 minutes (avoid burning them!).

'They will come out crispy and delicious, just how your child likes them!'.

Mandy said that once a child is happy eating a meal you can offer them the vegetable in a different format, such as mashed potato.

Serve small portions on large plates

When it comes to the one trick that will have them enjoying everything, Mandy said serving small portions of unfamiliar foods on larger plates is a great visual technique.

By doing this, it will mean thatchildren aren't overwhelmed by the quantity of food in front of them.

Parents need to understand what their children likes eating so they can help expand on it © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Parents need to understand what their children likes eating so they can help expand on it a close up of food: Mandy said that once a child is happy eating a meal you can offer them the vegetable in a different format, such as mashed potato © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Mandy said that once a child is happy eating a meal you can offer them the vegetable in a different format, such as mashed potato Make them feel like they have a choice 

Although no parent wants to be cooking five different meals a night to cater to different requests, the mother-of-two said it's important to make children feel like they have some form of control when it comes to food.

To avoid this Mandy said parents should give their children two healthy options to choose from. 

She suggested giving toddlers a choice of where they want to sit and asking them what plate they want.

For younger children allow them a choice between two foods that have already been prepared and take older children to the shops and ask if they would prefer meatballs or bolognese.

Give them praise and encouragement

'Children love praise, and positivity breeds positivity. You could use reward charts and outings to celebrate certain ‘milestones’ to remind your child how well they are doing and how far they’ve come,' Mandy said.

'Don’t forget to reward yourselves too! Remember to celebrate your family’s achievements and to be gentle with yourselves along the way.

'Instilling healthy and nutritious food associations in our children is an ongoing process, and is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint.'

To read more from Mandy Sacher, you can visit her website here

More From Daily Mail

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon