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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Any suggestions for a toddler who doesnt eat red meat?

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    I have a toddler/ 2 year old who doesnt eat any red meat (or vegetable for that matter). I am sruggling to get him to have any red meat- he does eat chicken and fish. Is he at risk? How can i ensure he has all the nutrients he needs when he is so fussy?
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    Samantha Ling

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Samantha is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD), consultant and food and nutrition enthusiast. Samantha works in a private practice on the Central Coast, NSW, Rostant … View Profile

    It is very common for your little ones to start testing their independance at this age, and it is often revolved around food! Like all children at any age, the best thing for you to do is act as a role model yourself.

    Without knowing your little ones diet history it's difficult to give you precise recommendations that suit your lifestyle. Generally, red meat is a very rich source of Iron, Zinc, Vitamin B12 and protein. If he is still eating a variety of other meats as well as vegetables, fruits, dairy and breads/cereals it is not a huge issue if he/she doesn't eat red meat. However, when children start displaying signs of fussy eating it is usually an indication that more ‘fussy eating habits’ are likely to follow - it is their way of displaying independance from you. As your toddler is still quite young, these ‘habits’ are still quite new can be easily changed with positive reinforcement. Ideally, you want your little one to carry good eating behaviours into later adolescence as he will be more likely to keep them for life.

    Try these fussy eating tips:
    1. Make red-meat fun - sometimes it's the dryness of red meat that kids hate, so often saucey moist dishes are a better way of encouraging them to eat. Eg. spag. bol. Try finger food by threading a mixture of marinated chicken and beef onto skewers (like at a BBQ) so that your little one can pick them off one at a time.
    2. Make veggies fun - kids love colour. Try mixing some sweet potato in with regular potato to give some colour. Use veggie sticks (such as carrot, celery and capsicum) as dipping sticks in a dip that your child likes.
    3. Get your child involved - scientific evidence shows that kids are more likey to consume something that they have helped prepare. Try getting your little one to pick a vegetable at the supermarket that you are later going to prepare for dinner; get your little one involved in the kitchen - he could help you marinate meat (kids LOVE getting their hands dirty in the kitchen), thread the meat onto skewers, wash vegetables, set the table, start a vegetable garden (he could water the veggies, help plant the seeds, pick the produce etc) etc

    Good luck!

    Samantha Ling
    Rostant Nutrition
    (Find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/rostantnutrition )

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