The last year or so has been difficult for me to get my picky eater to eat vegetables. At first, he seemed to dislike certain textures. Sometimes he chews his bites for so long that it doesn’t taste very good anymore and he has to spit it out. Every once in a while he will eat veggies, and those days always give me a little bit of hope for his eating habits.
In Week 3 of Maya Adam’s Child Nutrition and Cooking course, she gives us a few pointers on dealing with picky eaters. Of course she reminds us to keep meal time as stress-free as possible. Try not to have power struggles or force your kids to eat things they don’t want to eat. Make meal time enjoyable for them. Here are a few of her tips to help your picky eaters become more adventurous eaters:
Packing a Lunch
Take advantage of packing your child’s school lunch. School can be draining. It takes a lot of focused energy and your kids will probably be running around a lot at recess. They will probably not be as picky with their lunch while at school. Be sure to stick some fruit and veggies in their lunch and they might just eat them!
If you can, try having guests at the dinner table with you sometimes. This way your kids can see more role models who eat a variety of healthy food during the meal.
Last night we had some guests over for dinner and my kids didn’t think twice about their food. They ate it right up. I think they were more interested in the guests than they were picking which foods they’d eat or not eat.
Let Kids Have Some Control
As parents, it is our job to provide our kids with a variety of healthy options. Our kids can then decide what and how much to eat. This will help them feel like they are in control.
Redefine what a treat is! For example, when my little boy was potty-training, we rewarded him with 5 M&M’s each time he used his potty. One day it hit me that he’d probably be just as happy with 1 M&M or a sticker, so we switched to that, and he WAS just as happy. Maya suggests “celebrating veggies”. The example she used made me think of my dad because he did the same thing! Maya said you can get your kids excited to eat an artichoke as a special treat. Talk it up a lot. Let them help cook it. My dad would usually get a little bowl of mayonnaise to dip the artichoke leaves in. It was fun sitting with my family and enjoying a special artichoke. It really was a treat to us. “Treat” does not have to equal “sweet”.
Child Involvement/Grocery Shopping
Get your kids involved with the meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. Ask what they feel like eating this week. Take them to a Farmer’s Market and let them pick the fruits and veggies they want to buy.
Maya talked a little bit about grocery stores, and how they are usually set up to get people to buy more than they planned on buying and to buy the more expensive brands. So tricky. They put things that kids might like at eye-level of a 3-year old and/or eye-level of a child in a grocery cart so that they might ask their parents to buy certain things. Always make a list before you go grocery shopping. And try to go when you aren’t hungry. Also, be aware that some stores even use artificial aromas to make shoppers feel hungry. We live in a crazy world, huh?
Family Meal Time
Try to sit down as a family for meal times as often as you can. This is so important! Our children need to have a safe place to talk to us and tell us about their day and ask questions. They need to learn communication skills, and sitting around the table with family is a great place to learn those skills.
Make meal time fun. You can prepare a game, story, or some silly questions to ask during dinner. Try to have everything you need for the meal at the table with you. This way everybody isn’t getting up from the table during the meal to grab napkins, water, etc.
* I know all of these tips are more easily said than done. Please comment and share your story if you find anything on here that helps your picky eater become more of an adventurous eater. Good luck! 🙂