If you don’t have one…you’re bound to one day encounter the ‘picky eater’ and when you do, your parental patience will be put to the test. As a recovered picky eater, I earnestly look for new ways to prevent or tackle this issue. I was recently a part of a Twitter Party discussion, hosted by Happy Family Brands and featuring the expertise of Dietician and food lover, Amy Marlow. Here are some tips that were featured during this chat, which have helped in the earnest household and I hope can help in yours. Just remember that according to Ms. Marlow, picky eating is 50% biology and 50% experience.
1. Infancy is prime time for introducing a food, just be sure to never pressure baby to eat and look for signs of solid food readiness (such as showing interest in table food or mommy’s food, baby is willing to chew and baby no longer pushes food out of their mouth). Remember this is the best time to offer a variety of colors, flavors and textures!
2. Don’t give up. Most of us give up offering a refused food after three or four times and we decide that they do not like the food. Food refusal can depend on many factors, temperature, mood of child and even the time of day. Be sure to offer foods ten to fifteen times before deciding your child does not like it. Just keep trying!
3. Have children (toddler and older) assist in grocery shopping such as choosing fruits and vegetables, that way when they are home they will be more prone to eating the foods they have chosen. If this method is successful maybe do a challenge of one new fruit or vegetable that the family tries together each week. That way your child will be exposed to more flavors and textures (healthy ones if they are fruits or veggies), and mom and dad will be trying them too so it’s a communal effort from the whole family.
4. If your child is showing tendencies toward being a picky eater, do not offer high sugar, high calorie and low nutrient options. If you are going to offer alternatives stick to healthy ones. It will be better and healthier for both parents and child in the long run.
5. Have a rule at the dinner table, often times “I don’t like it” is heard before a child even tries their meal. Make a rule that everyone must try one bite of everything on their plate before they decide they do not like it. As hard as it may be, be patient during this process and support your child if they are at least trying the foods you are offering.
6. Never do any of these:
- Use foods as a reward, using sweets or other unhealthy treats as a reward for finishing dinner or eating something they do not care for can actually undermine the healthy examples that you are working so hard to have for your child.
- Label your child a picky eater. One hundred percent of the time, children who are told they are picky, will be picky.
- Never hide vegetables in your food. I mean, go ahead and disguise them or make them taste better, but never intentionally “trick” your child into eating something. Even though they do not know that a food may be present in their food, be honest with your child, tell them what they are eating. This approach allows children to recognize and appreciate the many forms and flavors that foods can bring to a variety of dishes. On a whole, earnest mom would insist that we do not lie to our children.
Like I said, as a recovered picky child and I would earnestly urge parents to not give up! There are still some foods that I am just not a fan of (corn or peas on their own, oh and Jello) but I once read that our taste buds actually change all of the time. So I am always willing to try, and we do the same with earnest boy (he has inherited my texture dislikes like Jello) and we get him to try foods he does not like about every month or so. Slowly but surely his palette is growing quite rapidly. So all you earnest moms and dads out there, be patient, set the example and help your children enjoy food! Below I have also attached a great nutrition guide link from Happy Family Brands to help!