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What to do when your little one will only eat pasta

One of my mum friends recently confided that her son refuses to eat anything but pasta.

Young children have a natural instinct to avoid new tastes. Naturally, this used to serve the purpose of protection, so that children, when they begin to walk and wander off, won’t eat anything poisonous on the way.

Eating pasta every day isn’t necessarily bad, what’s important is to introduce variety into the daily pasta meal and to stay away from white pasta.

All pastas are not equal

White pasta, as well as anything containing sugar, can get the digestive system used to getting to the food energy too easily, causing a spike in blood sugar, which, over time, can lead to an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and weight problems.

Some experts believe that it also makes the digestive system “lazy” to break down foods like vegetables. The more of these processed carbohydrates a child gets, the more she will refuse other foods.

You can combat this by switching to whole-wheat pasta and ensuring you cook it al dente (until it’s just tender) rather than boiling it until its mushy. These changes will mean the grain will break down slower in the stomach, lessening the blood-sugar elevation.

Making the switch from white to whole-grain pasta isn’t always easy, especially when you’re cooking for kids. Most whole-grain types of pasta are darker in colour and heartier in texture than regular pasta, which children may object to. Try blending the two types, serving your child twice as much white pasta as wheat, then gradually increase the amount of whole-grain pasta you serve until you’ve eliminated white pasta.

I suggest you also avoid readymade pasta meals that come in cans or packets and ramen or instant noodles as they are filled with additives including colourings, flavourings and preservatives.

Vital veggies

We all know how important veggies are to a child’s diet – they are powerhouses of energy, vitamins and minerals. If you can sneak a variety of veggies in with the pasta then you’re well on the way to a balanced diet for your little one.

 

Three easy ideas for hiding vegetables in pasta dishes:

  • Try adding grated courgette/zucchini, carrots or broccoli into pasta
  • Puree cooked veggies and put them in your (homemade) pasta sauce
  • Experiment with filled pasta (be careful to read the ingredients to see what else is in the filling other than veggies)

You can find more tips and tricks for easily adding veggies to your family’s diet with my free training 5-ways to 5-a-day.

Ultimately feeding your child (and yourself) is all about finding a balance. Give your child options, so she can feel like she has some power over what she eats, but only those options that you, as the mother, know are good!

I know it is frustrating when your child refuses to eat, but if you make sure your little one has veggies with her whole-wheat pasta there no need to worry, you never know next week she may want another thing.

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