Often we hear parents and educators who are trying to teach kids healthy habits say that one of the most discouraging things is a picky eater. You work hard to prepare a healthy meal or make sure the school cafeteria is offering a variety of healthy choices only to have a child refuse to eat it. Here are a few tips to help you with those picky eaters.
- Present healthy and delicious meals. If the options are pizza and broccoli, you can guess which one is going to get eaten. If you’re trying to get your kids to try new foods, don’t give them the proven favorites to fill up on (mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, etc). Make sure they know that this is the meal and there won’t be a better snack option later.
- Model good eating. We challenge teachers to eat a few meals a week from the school cafeteria with the kids. Parents, sit down as a family and eat together.
- Don’t try a new food once and give up. On average you need to introduce a new food 3-5 times before a child will eat it. Try it in different ways. Put out a veggie plate as a snack with low-fat ranch dressing for dipping or make sweet potatoes into baked sweet potato fries.
- Disguise it. For extremely picky eaters, dice veggies into your chili, or make a spaghetti sauce with shredded zucchini, etc.
- Don’t get discouraged. Our taste buds change as we grow older. Keep finding ways to introduce new foods to your child’s diet as they grow. The kids who hated sweet potatoes may suddenly realize he really loves them when they are diced and baked with rosemary and a little olive oil!