Picky Eaters Are Common
Do you have a child or children that refuse to eat certain foods you serve, no matter how delicious or healthy it may be? Many kids are picky eaters. Sometimes it starts at a very young age, but with others, it can develop over the years. No matter when a child becomes a picky eater, it can make mealtime stressful and difficult, but it doesn’t have to be!
Tips for Picky Eaters
You’re not alone. Thousands of parents struggle with picky eaters. If your child refuses to eat at meals, try these four tips to reduce anxiety for you and your family.
Don’t Force Food
One of the hardest situations parents find themselves in at meal time is a child who simply isn’t hungry. Forcing a meal on them, however, actually makes the problem worse, causing a power struggle each time it occurs. Soon, you will find yourself fighting over what your child will or will not eat every single day. In addition, forcing foods can cause an association of anxiety with mealtime. Instead, make sure you stick to the daily routine of when meals are served, and start with small portions to encourage your child to ask for more on their own.
Make Eating Fun
True, your child may turn their nose up at tomatoes, but it may not be because of the tomato flavoring. Perhaps it is the texture, or the juiciness of the fruit instead. Just because they don’t like it, doesn’t mean they won’t spaghetti sauce, or tomato soup.
The best way to find out what your children like and don’t like is to simply get creative. You’d be surprised at how many kids turn their nose up at peas, but once they are mixed in with a creamy macaroni and cheese dish, the little green vegetables are gobbled up. Adding other healthy ingredients to food can not only change the flavor to something more pleasing, but can also introduce new kinds of food to your family.
You’d be surprised at some of the favorites parents like to use:
- stir fried broccoli
- fried calamari
- pomegranate seeds
- chicken satay
- veggie dumplings
- bell peppers
- sweet potato fries
Never Use Rewards
Many parents cook different food for their picky eaters, but this only encourages the behavior. Others tell their kids that they can’t have dessert until they finish their meal, which eludes to the fact that dessert is always better. Focusing on rewarding your child can actually do more harm than good, so instead, minimize distractions around the table, set a good example by eating your portions of healthy foods, and make sure they aren’t filling up on snacks and juice throughout the day.
Have Your Children Help
If you let your children pick out the brands and types of foods they like while grocery shopping, you are including them in their own meal choices. Even letting them help choose the meal before you cook, and allowing them to watch or even help out while you prep and make dinner or their lunches, can increase interest in the food itself.
Don’t Get Frustrated At Your Picky Eater
It may be frustrating, and might seem like it will never change, but a picky eaters’ habits don’t always last forever. True, most don’t change overnight, but all it takes is time, some patience, and a little creativity to turn your child’s eating habits around.