Tips for Parents with Picky Eaters
I have to admit, I have been blessed with a child that is not as picky as most, and for the most part, devours whatever food is put in front of her, but just as any child she goes through phases, and at times refuses to eat anything that lacks peanut butter or bread, so I have learned some tricks on how to get her to eat, what I want her to eat (not what she wants).
Picky eaters make it difficult for parents to feed their children proper nutritious foods that they wish their children would consume, such as vegetables, fruits, and proteins. But parents do not have to allow their picky eater to control what is kept in the pantry or the refrigerator. There are many tips and tricks parents can adapt to get their children not to only eat nutritious foods, but to enjoy them as well.
Here are some tips for parents so that they can provide healthy and delicious food, and ensure that their picky eaters are consuming the proper nutrition for their small and growing bodies.
Tip #1: Go Grocery Shopping Alone.
It's always better, if you can help it, to leave the children (and husband/wife) at home and venture to the grocery store alone. This way no one can pressure you to buy the things you would rather leave behind for someone else's family to buy. Make sure you're in control of what you purchase, not the picky eater.
Tip #2: Skip the Junk.
Refrain from buying and keeping junk food in the house altogether. If there are no junk food options in the house, then the picky eater of the household is ultimately forced into eating a healthier alternative.
Tip #3: Same Meal, Same Time.
Make the same exact meal for everyone in the household and sit down and eat together. If your child sees that someone else likes the food, than they are more likely to eat it as well. Lead by example.
Tip #4: Do Not Feel Guilty.
Do not feel guilty when your child kicks and screams when they are not getting their usual PB&J. Stick to your guns, and hold your ground. If they still refuse to eat what you offer, then allow them to go without. When your picky eater becomes hungry enough, he/she will eat what you put on the table.
Now, just because you keep only healthy options in the house doesn't mean that your picky eater will eat them automatically, that's when you have to get creative with food and meal times.
Trick #1: Menu Style Meal Times.
Create a little menu for your picky eater; a separate menu for each meal time (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks). On each menu offer three healthy meal options, allowing them to decide on one by themselves. If your child feels that they are in control, they will eat.
Trick #2: Change the Appearance of the Food.
Get creative. Make a salad into a coral reef, and a sandwich into a fish. Make an apple into a flower and a hard-boiled egg into a bug. If the healthy food looks fun and delicious, your picky eater is more likely to consume it. Another great way to change the appearance of fresh fruits and veggies is to blend them into a puree and freeze them into Popsicle form. Your child will believe they are getting a "treat" and you will be satisfied knowing they are receiving their daily amount of fruits and veggies (and they can even have seconds).
Trick #3: From Carbs to Protein.
Lets face it, most kids will choose a peanut butter sandwich over chicken and eggs any day, that's when you trick them into eating a healthier alternative to the PB&J. Make homemade protein bread or pancakes (with a natural protein powder) and mix a little bit of Greek yogurt and fresh berries into the peanut butter for a delicious spread. Your child will never know the difference, and even ask for seconds!
Trick #4: Don't Hide, Provide!
As parents we have all decided on trying to hide veggies under cheese, eggs, or even in sandwiches, but ultimately the picky eater finds it, picks it out, and it almost always ends up on the floor or in the garbage. So instead of hiding veggies, provide your child with a plate of nothing but veggies and different homemade dipping sauces (or healthy store bought ones). Let your child pick, choose, and experiment with different textures and flavors.
Changing a child's eating habits is a difficult thing, time consuming process, but with persistence and a solid surface under your feet, you can and will make it happen. Children grow, learn, adapt, change, and go in and out of phases more than we, as parents, can keep up with. And just like he/she grows out of their shoes every year, they will outgrow the PB&J phase as well, it just takes time.