Q: My 7-year-old son refuses to eat certain healthy foods. How can we get him to eat greens or other healthy food?

A: First, you don’t need to fret over this. There is a solution to the issue. Many parents often blame themselves for their kids having this kind of aversion towards certain food items mainly because when these kids begin showing such signs early in their childhood, parents often dismiss it as a phase or a stage, sure that their child will surely outgrow it after a while. Sadly, in some cases, when it doesn’t happen, parents end up believing it is their fault for not having tackled the issue earlier.

My advice: Do not beat yourself up over it; this is not your fault.

Some children develop a kind of aversion towards food items convinced these items may not taste good, that it may cause them to gag or retch even if they were to so much as see or smell it, or that it could harm them and leave them ill.

As I do not have more details about how your son reacts or behaves, I believe he could either be a fussy eater or he could have something called selective eating issue. Both of these merely differ in how drastic is his aversion to the food items. While a picky/fussy eater may be unwilling to try different kinds of food simply because of the food’s taste or feel, in the case of a selective eater, it is more of a phobia or fear of eating these kinds of food items. Result: they will consume only the kinds of food that they consider ‘safe’.

Start taking baby steps to help change his view towards food in general. Make sure that the entire family is seated at the table while having a meal. Seeing that everyone at the table will not only help him feel more comfortable, it will also instill in him a feeling of security and safety. He will believe that if anything does go wrong, his entire family is right there by his side to help him.

Start by introducing a small amount of green food in his plate and gently coax him into having just a small bite or even just taste it. In case he spits it out or throws up, do not make a huge issue of it; be encouraging and supportive. Tell him about how proud you are – proud of him for at least attempting to try the food.

I must warn you that the entire process may take some time, but eventually he will begin to take steps forward. The important thing to keep in mind here is to be patient and encouraging rather than forceful.

The good news is that his recovery is possible with professional help, so your son can be coached to enjoy a wider selection of foods. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any further guidance.

Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based life coach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, and author of The Mind Diet and Active Positive Parenting (russellhemmings.co.uk). Got a problem? Our panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

Read more