If you are, we have teamed up with mums Meriel and Lucy from Claudi & Fin to come up with some top tips to help you navigate the minefield of mealtimes with a small child.
Let's start with the basics..
You're aiming for a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water which should include at least five portions of vegetables or fruit per day. Children's portions do differ from ours, so nutritionists recommend you use your child's palm as a measuring cup - the bigger the hand the bigger the portion. Before you start to panic thinking 'there's no way my child eats five- a-day every day', it's worth knowing that a truly balanced diet is measured over weeks not days. If one day all they want to eat is beige, it's not the end of the world.
Every parent has done battle with their child at the dinner table. Even the best eaters sometimes throw their toys out of the pram, but whilst you won't win every broccoli or carrot battle, research tells us you can definitely win the war!
In First Bite, food writer, Bee Wilson says 'our approach to feeding children is too short term. If you pressurise a child to eat a whole plate of greens, you are teaching them to dislike the greens - and you, for that matter. If you persuade them to take one tiny taste (and again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that), there's a chance they will become a lifelong eater of greens'. If your child doesn't like a food the first time around, don't give up. Keep putting that food on their plate and keep leading by example. Eventually curiosity will get the better of them and persuade them to get stuck in.
Meriel and Lucy love cooking with their kids and try to get them involved wherever possible. Mess aside, it's a great way to encourage them to take an interest in food. Their favourite recipe with the little ones is a Strawberry Greek style Frozen Yoghurt recipe. What's more, the lollies were made with them in mind and are a great way to persuade your child they're having a treat with none of the guilt. They're full of nature's good stuff and we keep them free of nasties and low in sugar.
Getting creative is also a great way to get kids eating healthily. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration but if time is short, try putting a slice of watermelon on a lolly stick or make vegetables a feast for the eyes by putting together colourful kebabs.
Here are 5 sneaky ways you can add a bit of veg into your cooking.
1. Dip it – Meriel's kids go mad for hummus, so she
cuts up thinly sliced carrots or cucumber so they can dip them in.
2. Smoothies - If you get the combination right your kids won't even taste any vegetables. Try these ones by Jamie Oliver
3. Sauces - This is a great way to pack in loads of vegetables completely under the radar! You can pop everything in a food processor so all traces of veg disappear into a smooth sauce. Try this one by My Fussy Eater
4. Grate or spiralise vegetables - You can grate veg into meatballs or spiralise courgettes to make noodles/pasta.
5. Puree vegetables – you can make great mash or dips by whizzing up vegetables. We love this avocado, basil and butter bean mash recipe by Organix.
These are all great ways of adding a bit of extra veg, but remember not to be too sneaky. You want your children to be familiar with vegetables and not to see them as a taboo food, so also offer them whole vegetables with any hidden meals you make.
The key is persistence and perseverance. It's tedious and the floor might see more vegetable action than your child but it will pay off in the end. Good luck!
Meriel and Lucy from Claudi & Fin