If you have a picky eater in the house you probably have spent many a meal wringing your hands in frustration, sighing the sigh of tired moms begging their child to take just one bite, and bargaining with them just to get a few bites in their bellies. While I won’t lie and tell you I have a foolproof way to get your kid’s to eat better I have learned a few things that make getting the little critics to eat a bit more healthy food.
7 Ways to Overcome Picky Eating
1. Start offering them everything while they are young- As soon as your child is eating solids begin offering them appropriate foods in a variety of tastes and textures. Avocado, Mango, Asparagus, Wild Rice, etc.. As they grow include new seasonings and spices to tempt their palate. If all you offer from the start is processed white bread, peanut butter, jelly, nuggets, and so on that is what they are going to want even when they are 8. Open their culinary world up as soon as they begin eating.
2. Let them help plan the menu- Giving them some “power” over choices, right from the very beginning goes a long way at getting them to not only try but like the foods set before them. Let them choose the meal from start to finish keeping within some boundaries that you set.
3. When shopping allow them to pick one new food to try- This is a little game the kids and I play a couple of times a month. When we go shopping for groceries we head to the produce section and look for a new food or vegetable we have never tried, or maybe a new variety of bread, sometimes it’s a new cheese, occasionally we pick up a new kind of meat to prepare.
4. Hire them on as sous chef- A child that helps prepare a snack or meal is much more likely to try the fruits of their own labor. Let them chop lettuce (with a plastic knife), wash ,stir, mix, roll, and toss. Salads, finger foods, and homemade pizza are great places to start
5. Sauce it up- If it takes a little bowl of Ranch dressing to make veggies appealing I say make the compromise. If you worry about the ingredients in processed sauces make your own from scratch. Use Greek yogurt as a base and add anything from honey for a sweet dip to Italian seasonings and Garlic for savory- you will be surprised what they are willing to try.
6. Play with food- Surprise them or let them part of the preparations, cut food into fun shapes using cookie cutters- pancakes, sandwiches, melon slices, tortillas all cut out nicely. Chop meats, cheeses, veggies, etc… into small, fun, bite sized pieces.
7. Always be positive- I have caught myself a few times saying “Oh you won’t like this, this is grown up food!” Avoid telling your children that they won’t like something, even if it is a bit spicy. I realized early on that those words have power, while they are still not going to like everything you would be surprised at the flavors that a child with an open mind will devour.