Our expert says:
It is a great pity that your 6-year-old lassie eats such an unbalanced diet which basically consists of snack foods. Undesirable foods/drinks that you have listed are: viennas, polony, biscuits, Simba puffs, cold drinks and Oros. These foods are high in fat and sugar, and don't really provide a growing child with the nutrients she requires for healthy growth at this time of her life. As you mention if would be desirable for her to leave out these foods/drinks and rather eat/drink milk, fruit, more vegetables and some wholegrain cereals. Her relatively low intake of calcium from dairy products can prevent her from developing strong bones and teeth. Forcing her to eat is not the answer because this causes conflict and can make a child avoid healthy foods for the sake of not backing down. I think you need to tell her that you have thought long and hard about her health and because you have her best interests at heart and would like her to grow up strong and healthy, you are from now on not going to buy any of the foods/drinks listed above, which don't contribute to healthy nutrition. Ban these foods from your shopping list and home. Then present her with healthy options and if she won't eat them, don't make a fuss, but don't give her the high-fat snack foods either. Be calm and kind and explain why she needs healthy foods and a varied diet. Children of 6 years are perfectly able to understand the idea of eating healthy foods and the link to good health. Be kind, but firm and she should start eating healthy foods when she realises that the less healthy options are not going to be available any more. If she throws tantrums, make sure she can't hurt herself and leave the room because a tantrum is only effective if the parents are watching. Hopefully your daughter will change her eating patterns with your example, support and love. If after 6 weeks, she is still refusing to eat a more balanced diet, I would recommend that you consult a child psychologist (ask your gp to refer you), because she may be using her refusal of healthy foods and dietary changes to exert pressure on the other members of the family or because she had an underlying problem such as anxiety. The child psychologist will help her to learn better coping techniques so that she does not have to turn to food fads to express her feelings.
But do first try the snack-less, kind but firm approach.
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