Feeding a picky eater can be stressful and frustrating. It’s hard to know what to do when your child is constantly refusing to eat certain foods. But don’t worry there are a few simple tips and tricks you can use to make meals easier for everyone. Here are 10 tips for picky eaters that may help.
1. Involve children in meal planning and preparation
Involving your child in the cooking process can help them develop an appreciation for food, as well as an understanding of the effort involved in making a meal. This will also give them ownership over their own food choices, allowing them to decide what they’d like to eat on their own terms.
2. Offer small portions of food at first
If your child is hesitant about trying new foods, offer them smaller portions than you would typically serve so that they don’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the size of the plate in front of them. You can always provide them with a second helping when they finish their plate.
3. Make sure there are familiar items on the plate
Having a few familiar items on the plate (like macaroni and cheese, veggie sticks, or crackers) alongside unfamiliar ones gives kids something to rely on if they don’t take to the new item right away. this strategy makes it easier for them to take a risk and try it out without feeling uncomfortable or scared off by unfamiliarity.
4. Introduce one new food at a time
When introducing new foods, start with just one item at a time so as not to overwhelm your child with too much change all at once. Having too many new foods can be intimidating or even scary for some children (especially young ones).
5. Let children choose from two or three options when possible
Giving kids choices within reasonable parameters gives them more control over their meals without overwhelming them with too many options. This helps build trust between parent and child around food choices while also allowing kids some freedom in deciding what they’d like to eat each day/mealtime!
6. Offer healthy snacks throughout the day
Eating healthy snacks throughout the day helps maintain blood sugar levels and keeps kids from getting overly hungry during mealtimes. Doing this makes them more likely to try out new foods when presented with those same items during mealtime. Here are some great healthy snack ideas for the kiddos https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthy-snacks-for-kids
7. Don’t force feed
Forcing a child to eat something they don’t like can have a long-term negative effect on both the child’s development and relationship with food. It can make them feel helpless, scared and resentful. This can lead to a lack of trust in their parents, as well as the development of unhealthy habits such as overeating in the future.
Furthermore, forcing children to eat certain foods can lead to an aversion or even dislike towards those foods, which could limit a child’s diet and nutrition later on in life. Additionally, it can often lead to children eating too much at one time, which could contribute to weight problems down the line. On top of that, it may also discourage healthy eating habits as kids become more likely to prefer processed or junk foods since they’re seen as more fun or exciting than nutritious options. It would be far better for parents to encourage their children’s desire for healthy food by providing plenty of nutritious options and showing interest in what they’re eating instead of dictating what they consume.
Forcing kids to eat something they don’t want could lead to negative associations with that food item in the future. Instead, focus on offering healthy options and letting your child decide how much he/she wants of each item (within reason).
8. Use positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement goes a long way towards helping kids learn healthier eating habits; praising good behavior (like trying out new foods) will encourage more of it in future dining experiences!
9. Take time out before meals
Taking five minutes out before meals allows both parents and children time alone together. This helps create an atmosphere conducive towards trying new things without fear of judgment or pressure from either side.
10. Talk about nutrition
Talking about nutrition doesn’t have to be boring; instead it should focus on why certain foods are beneficial (or not). This information can help form more informed decisions when it comes time for dinner!
Some simple nutritional supplements can also take some of the stress off of a period of picky eating. See my article on the top 10 supplements for kids health for more information.
Picky eating isn’t easy but there are ways you can make mealtimes less stressful for everyone involved. From including your children in meal planning and preparation processes all the way through offering healthy snacks throughout the day, these ten tips will help make dinnertime easier while still ensuring that your family eats nutritious meals together. If you feel that you require more counseling, feel free to book an appointment.