These days, one of the most common complaints that parents have is that their kids don’t want to eat – or even try – any of the new foods that are put on their plates. While many parents may not mind preparing separate meals for the picky eaters in the family, this habit can quickly become extremely costly – and inconvenient. Below are a few great tips that will help you deal with – and conquer – picky eating as effectively as possible.
1. Include your Kids in Meal Prep
If you take your kids grocery shopping with you, ask them to help you choose fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods (within your budget, of course). While preparing meals, have your kids help by rinsing vegetables or fruits or even with meal planning for the week. If they have a hand in planning the week’s meals, they will be more likely to eat what is being served.
2. Don’t Purchase Unhealthy Foods
Although everyone deserves a treat from time to time, many parents make the mistake of keeping a stockpile of unhealthy foods and snacks in the house – and then wondering why their kids refuse to eat at meal times. If an excess of crisps, cookies, ice cream and other treats aren’t readily available in your home; your kids will learn to eat the healthier options on hand if they are hungry. Ensure that you have a steady supply of fresh fruit or even carrot sticks on hand for the, “I’m hungry” moments between meals.
3. Eat at the Dinner Table
Nowadays, many families are in the habit of slouching in the den while having dinner. This can cause kids to become distracted and not want to eat as well. Whenever possible, ensure that everyone gets together around the dinner table or even in the kitchen to enjoy at least one meal a day together. This will help everyone to focus on their meal instead of the latest TV show – and it will enable everyone to communicate with each other as well.
4. Introduce Healthier Elements to Foods that your Kids Already Eat
Most kids enjoy cereal or pancakes and it is relatively easy to add a few healthier food items into these. For example, add a few fruit slices over a bowl of cereal or add fruit chunks into the pancakes that they already enjoy. It may take a little time for your kids to get used to the new food additions, but in time, they will learn to enjoy at least a few of them.
5. Don’t Use Dessert as a Bribery Tool
Too many parents make the mistake of using dessert as a bribery tool to get their kids to finish their greens. This will not only send a message to your kids that dessert is the best food on offer; it could result in them craving more sugary junk foods than before to satisfy their sweet tooth. Instead, limit dessert to only a few nights per week, as this will make it the treat that it is supposed to be and not something that should be expected after each meal.
6. Introduce New Foods More Than Once
Many parents think that their kids don’t like a particular food because they weren’t too keen to try it for the first time. However, research has shown that it can take as many as 15 tries before a child will actually enjoy eating a new food. Simply place a small serving on their plates and try not to make an issue out of it if they don’t finish all of it the first few times it is served to them.
7. Be Realistic with Portion Sizes
Parents often have unrealistic expectations when it comes to serving new foods to their kids. A general rule of thumb is that 1 tablespoon of food should be served for each year of a child’s age. For example, a 2 year old should be served 2 tablespoons of cooked carrots, while a 6 year old should be served 6 tablespoons. However, always serve a little less than you think they will eat, as this will ensure that they don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of new food on their plates.
When dealing with picky eaters, it’s important to remember that a little persistence will go a long way. As mentioned above, it may take a few tries of a particular food before your child’s perception of it will change from “Yuck” to “Yum.”