We’ve all been there. And many of us still are. No matter how many times we swore (to ourselves and everyone around us) that our kids will be different, that our kids will eat everything, the inevitable happened. We raised picky eaters. Gone are the fantasies of eating family meals of chicken salad and thai curry. Now we get excited if they eat a bite of broccoli alongside a cheesy bowl of macaroni. Chicken nuggets are their own food group, along with buttered pasta and fish.
- Follow the French
The French believe it is as important to teach your child to eat as it is to teach them to read. French mothers introduce an incredibly diverse range of food to their infants and French children learn to eat a broad range of healthy foods before the inevitable ‘picky eater’ phase.
- Get Creative
Let them sprinkle something on top like sesame seeds or even change how they’re eating by offering chopsticks.
- Stick with Small Portions
Children have small stomachs, and may feel overwhelmed by large portions on a plate. Keep portions small, especially when it comes to introducing new foods. If they like it, they’ll ask for more, which also gives children a feeling of control.
- Eat with Others
A little positive peer pressure goes a long way. At home and at childcare, children encourage each other to taste new things. The more kids see others eating a variety of foods the more apt they are to trying them.
- Grow Your Own
Want kids to eat veggies? Start an edible garden. Green beans straight off the vine in the morning on the way to school. Kids feel so empowered knowing they’re helping to grow food and it’s gratifying when they get to eat it.
- Meet the Beet
When a child says ‘I don’t like that food’, they often mean ‘I don’t know it’. To take the mystery out of a new food, let your child get to know it a little better. Show your child a raw beet and then let them touch it and smell it. Cut it open, and let them look at the intense color.
- Forgo the Kids’ Menu
Next time you’re out to eat, resist the temptation to order off the kids’ menu, which are generally an abyss of reheated frozen foods. Ask if you could order a regular item as a half portion for kids. Many restaurants are happy to do this.
- Keep Snacks to a Minimum and Keep them Nutritious
If your child is munching all day long, it’s no wonder they aren’t hungry come mealtime. Plus, they always know something crunchier, sweeter and more exciting is just a few hours away. To bring your child back to the table, limit snacks to one or two times a day. Offer kids raw veggies, fruit, rice cakes, cheese or nuts to give them energy after school or before dinner.
- Resist the Bribery Temptation
Sure, it will get you through the meal, but bribing your kids to eat x in order to get y will only cause problems down the road. Food is not a bribe, a reward, a punishment, a distraction, or a substitute for discipline.
Perhaps the hardest tip of them all, the best thing you can do when dealing with a picky eater is to relax and be calm. The goal is not to control what children eat, but to teach them how to eat well.
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