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05th Oct 2023

‘Beige food’ eaters: How to encourage your child to eat more colourful food

I was the poster girl for beige/white food eating.

Growing up, I was always referred to as a ‘white’ or beige’ eater. Refusing to eat anything other than bread, rice, pastas, and so on.

I sent my mum into a tailspin of worry about my nutrition.

As I got older, my food choices became much more colourful, but it didn’t happen overnight.

‘Beige eaters’ can be the pickiest of eaters who will only stick to a certain colour of food, and it’s actually rather common.

Yes, it’s soul-destroying to stand over the stove for hours making the healthiest and finest of meals, only for your child to beg for bread instead, but there’s a reason for this resistance, and I am living proof it can change.

According to Your Kids Table, little ones are likely sticking to one colour of the rainbow because they trust this colour.

To an adult mind, it may be hard to understand. But to a small and extremely imaginative mind, this makes perfect sense.

Colourful foods may make their tummies feel different, or the textures may surprise them when they bite into them and result in them putting up mental blockers against trying them again.

When you think about it, foods that are most loved by kids do tend to be white or beige; think popcorn, nuggets, chips, cereal, crackers, pasta, etc. So to the subconscious of their imaginative little minds, these foods feel safe and bring happy feelings to the eating experience.

However, this manifests as picky eating, something that makes parents – in their rational thinking – worry about.

How to introduce the rainbow

The first thing is to identify which colours they are avoiding. Is there a colour pattern? Are they avoiding greens but open to every other coloured food? Or are they just eating white, beige, or even yellow foods?

Look for the clues and make lists. This can help later, when you’re making meals, as you’ll know what colour to start with, so you can slowly start introducing new colours.

For example, if they are happy to eat white and yellow foods, perhaps you could grate some very thinly sliced carrots or orange peppers into the mix to avoid the shock factor of adding bright green broccoli to their plate.

Knowing their colour limits will help you know where to go next.

[caption id="attachment_434363" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Credit: Getty

Remember, texture and smell play a significant role in fussy eaters refusal to accept certain foods too. For me, as a child, broccoli and minced beef gave me a strange sensation to eat for reasons I can’t explain now, and I hated the smell of tomato pasta sauce for years.

Somewhere along the way, I let down my defences as I enjoy eating all of these now. I credit this to my mums patience as, I am convinced, as a past picky eater, it really is about taking your time and slowly working your way across the colour wheel while playing it safe texture and smells while doing so.

Top tip: I hated spaghetti Bolognese sauce with a burning passion. Anytime this was on the menu for dinner in our house, my mum would tell me she was making me taco fries instead.

She would literally use the same sauce and meat from the Bolognese and just pour it over chips instead of pasta and I would gobble it down thinking I got my way. Sometimes it’s all in the child’s mind and they just want to feel they have control over their meals!

Good luck.