Down the hatch: 7 sure-fire strategies to encourage your child to eat new foods and take their supplements (part 1)

By Alive & Well

Sean Fitzgerald, Autism InternationalGuest post from Sean Fitzgerald, Autism International


We all know that good healthy food supports a strong immune system and a growing mind. In some cases, it can even contribute to a calmer, more easy-going nature, and make it easier for kids to overcome challenges.

We also know that sometimes biomedical supplements and herbal medicines can help address deficits of a particular mineral or vitamin and get things back into balance fast.

All that’s great. But sometimes, it’s a whole lot easier said than done. Kids don’t always want to try new foods, and some biomeds are harder to swallow than others. Am I right?

Now, after many years of experience working with hundreds of parents around the world, I’ve learnt that meal time doesn’t need to turn into a Mexican stand-off.

I can see that there are 7 strategies that form the foundation of any successful attempt to introduce new foods or biomeds:

  1. kid-eating1Attitude
  2. Timing
  3. Playfulness
  4. (Giving) Control
  5. Persistence
  6. Celebrations
  7. Conviction

We’ll be talking about all of them over the next few posts. So let’s begin with the all-important …

1. Attitude

It’s simple – your attitude has a huge influence on how your child views what you’re dishing up.

If you hate broccoli, you’re going to have a hard time encouraging your child to eat it. But if you love it, or you love what it can do for you and your child, and your child can see that, it’s going to be much more attractive to them (it’s no guarantee mind you, but it’s a very big factor).

One of the things that strikes me when I work with families in Mediterranean countries like Italy and Greece is how much home-made wholefoods are a part of their culture and diet. They eat more of them – and a much wider variety – than we do in the UK, US or Australia. So parents implicitly communicate their love and appreciation of wholefoods as a matter of course, and this passes down to their kids.

The power of conviction to support the attitude you want to have

Having a positive conviction about the food or supplement will help you have a great attitude about it every time you offer it. If you’re dreading it, or seem to be rushing to get it over and done with, your child will be much less likely to want to give it a go. But if you’re enthusiastic, you’ll have a running start – and there are ways to change your attitude to be as positive as possible. You just need to work on your beliefs.

So next time you’re faltering, try saying to yourself:

  • This might help my child feel much better physically and emotionally
  • I’m lucky and grateful to be able to help him like this
  • My positive attitude can make this easier for both of us
  • It’s OK if she doesn’t feel good about it straight away – I can lead the way and give her the opportunity, even if she’s not quite ready for it yet

Conviction leads to persistence and results, so it’s a great place to start.

How do you believe food or supplements might help your child? Think through all of the positive outcomes you’d like to bring about, write them down and keep them front of mind next meal time.

The complete ‘Down the Hatch’ series: