Is there a picky eater in your household? Has it been frustrating? If so, use the following tips to help prevent mealtime battles, and to ensure there is still plenty of variety and nutrients in their meals.
- Younger children tend to only eat when they are hungry. Therefore, do not force them or bribe them to eat, as this could lead to another struggle.
- Change your negative phrases into positive ones! Instead of saying No dessert until you eat your vegetables, say something like We can try these vegetables again another time or Next time, would you like to try them raw instead of cooked? Using dessert as a reward may also increase your child’s desire for sweets and other similar food items that are not considered healthy.
- Make mealtime fun! Serve vegetables and fruit with a favorite dip or sauce. Cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters. Offer breakfast foods for dinner.
- At the grocery store, ask your child to help select food items, including fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods. Don’t buy anything that you don’t want your child to eat. At home, encourage your child to help you rinse the fruit and vegetables, and prepare the meal.
- Shop at farmers markets. This is a great opportunity for kids to try something new, as many farmers market vendors enjoy giving out free samples of their products.
- Be sneaky! Add vegetables to spaghetti sauce. Top cereal with fruit.
- Try not to serve snacks at least one hour before a meal so children will be hungry at mealtime, or more motivated to eat.
- Do not prepare separate meals for children, as this may encourage the picky eating.