Five Ways To Deal with Picky Eaters

A boy turns his head away from the food his father is placing on the table.It’s one thing to say you don’t care for this or that, but a picky eater can be difficult to deal with, especially when it’s your child. “What’s for dinner?” is already a difficult question to answer, but when you end up with a full plate and a cranky child, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich doesn’t sound so bad. Having a picky eater can make it easy to fall into an unhealthy food routine.

Here are a few tips to help influence your picky eater to try new things:

  1. Include your kids in food prep: With school, soccer and dance recitals, it might be hard to come up with healthy meals each weeknight. Food prep on a Saturday or Sunday helps get everything ready for the week. Ask your kids to step up to the counter and help portion out foods, ask them to come shopping with you and have them pick out some healthy foods for school, snacks and dinner.
  2. Use vegetables in creative ways: Vegetables don’t always have an inviting look to them, especially to kids. Try popping a few fruits and veggies where they least expect it. For breakfast, create a smiley face with blueberries or serve up a warm carrot muffin. For lunch, chop up a few bell peppers or carrots with some hummus or wrap a piece of turkey or cheese around a celery stalk or apple slice. For dinner, add some vegetables to pasta, rice or pasta/potato salad.
  3. Don’t cut out sweets:Don’t punish your children by cutting out the foods they do like if they didn’t eat all their dinner. Think about what happens when you don’t have pizza for a while or go carb-free for a month? Once you pop, the fun don’t stop. Moderate your child’s consumption of their favorites and give them choices you want them to eat.
  4. Lead by example: The best way to influence kids is by example. Don’t expect them to eat spinach if you won’t touch it.
  5. Repetition is key, but not every night: Nutrition Science research shows that it may take up to 12 exposures for a child to get used to a new food. Don’t serve pork chops 12 days in a row; work it in once a week with different ways to prepare it.

Talk with your pediatrician about helping your child get the proper nutrition.