I decided to add another blog post with tips for dealing with picky eaters. I could write more as I love writing ideas for you to try with your children and I hope that a few of them will inspire you to succeed in helping your children eat nutritious foods. So, let’s consider (for now 😉 ) that this blog post concludes the picky eaters series.
The main take away from this blog post is: Never give up. Be consistent at offering children healthy choices. This all-round tip reminds us to keep going even when we feel there is no hope.
Here are more ideas that you could apply in your family:
- Even though I entitled my series of tips “How to deal with picky eaters”, I don’t agree with this term. If we label a child as a picky eater, the child will live up to their label. Venting to others about the child’s pickiness may be therapeutic, but not in front of the child.
- Why use the word “treat” when giving them junk food? A treat is a dessert or other tasty snack that has nourishing ingredients. If you let them eat junk food once in a while, call it junk food, not a treat. Don’t make it sound like it is an awesome food to eat.
- I can’t emphasize this enough: the more junk food we offer them, the less likely they will be to eat real food. The less junk food we keep in the house, the less likely they are to eat it. Is it easier to tell them “We don’t have any (insert junk food) in the house” than “you are not allowed to eat the (insert junk food)”.
- If your child likes certain a food, don’t offer it too regularly as they will stop eating the food. For example, my daughter eats raspberries. She will eat an entire half-pint container in one sitting. When I give them to her every day, for let’s say 4 days in a row, she is not touching them at all the 4th day.
- Try not to use food as a reward or punishment, but if you do, don’t beat yourself up as nobody is perfect. Move on. Tomorrow is a new day.
- Don’t force them to eat as this is a battle that you will lose either way. Even if they eat the food, they eat it because they were forced, not because they were willing to eat it. This won’t help them develop healthy eating habits.
- I allow my kids to eat almost anything when we go to a birthday party (of course, my son does not eat gluten and dairy), but the rule is that first they eat nutritious food and then they can eat junk food. The good thing is that they almost fill up on healthy food and there isn’t much room left for the rest.
- Choose the right timing for offering new or not-so-favourite foods. One of the things I learned in the last 5 years is that children won’t starve themselves. If they are truly hungry, they will eat (almost) anything I put in front of them. For example, when I take the children to the park, I pack a variety of snacks. I know my daughter will eat some for sure and that she is less likely to eat others. I let her choose from the snacks I packed. She usually does not touch the ones I knew she was less likely to eat. When it is time to head home, I hand her the food she refused. She rests in her stroller and happily eats the food because she knows no other food is available and she is hungry.
- Sometimes simpler meals are the answer. Casseroles, stews, etc. might be too overwhelming for them. Steamed broccoli/cauliflower /green beans/green peas next to a food rich in protein such as a boiled egg/grilled chicken/cooked beans might be a dinner they will enjoy. Their taste buds are still developing – sometimes food with fewer ingredients and simpler flavors are preferred.
- Grow a garden. Children get really excited when it comes to planting seeds, watering the seeds, and watching plants grow. My son enjoys tasting kale, lettuce, and strawberries straight from our garden (after washing them with his favorite feature of our yard – the water hose!). Since planting our garden he even tried radishes which he never did before unless they were mixed in a salad.
Children go through many phases. We need to remember that most behaviour is part of a phase. Which is just that. A phase. This is easy to forget when we are anxious about our children’s eating habits. Never give up. If they don’t eat a particular food today they might eat it tomorrow (or sometime in the future). But if we give up, they may never try it.
Now, after you read all the tips, it is time to TAKE ACTION. Yes, that’s right. These tips are not going to be useful to you if you don’t apply what you have read. There isn’t one solution that fits all. You have to try several things and find out which ones work for your child. Then when they stop working, come back here, read all the tips again, and try different ones. Helping kids eat right is a continuous process that requires some work by us, their parents.
So, what you have to do is to choose one thing, only one, from what you have read. This one thing has to be the one that you can see yourself doing, that you can see your child agreeing with, and very important, that you can see both of you having fun with.
After you choose it, apply it three times a week for 2 weeks in a row, then let me know how it went.
Do you need more help? Check out the “Picky Eating? No More!” program. It might be the right program for you and your child.
Do you want to read the previous tips on how to deal with picky eaters? Here they are:
Tip #1 – Set a good example
Tip #2 – Involve your kids in the kitchen
Tip #3 – Eat together as a family
Tip #4 – Make meal time enjoyable
Do you have a favourite tip that you think would be fun to try with your child? Please let me know which one.
Photo source: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net