Picky Eaters: Resources, Recipes and Tips from a Nutritionist and Chef
Strategies for Coping with Picky Eaters
Picky Eaters, whether children or adults, can make meal planning stressful, especially if you are trying to keep your family diet healthy and varied! Adults, however, usually have the knowledge that eating a healthy, balanced diet is important if they want to reduce their risks for some health problems later in life, so it becomes a matter of pure choice with adults. But for children, who do not yet have the ability to understand or reason, there are ways that we can hopefully help them navigate through the picky eating phases and learn to enjoy a variety of foods.
This photo says it all because it is indicative of the frustration and stress that picky eaters can cause parents and caregivers, who want nothing but the best for our children and their health. This little tot is turning her nose up at foods that most toddlers would eat any day, a corn dog and grapes!
It reminds me of an experience we just had with our toddler. We served her something recently that she had practically inhaled the first time she had it, but this time? "I don't like it," the moment we put the bowl in front of her.
Let's explore some strategies that might be helpful!
It Begins in the Womb!
Because our babies can taste flavors in the amniotic fluids in the womb, it is important not only for expecting moms but also their babies that they eat a variety of healthy foods to expose their babies to a good variety of flavors from the earliest possible time! This can be difficult for moms who experience a lot of morning sickness, but even those who do it normally does not last too long into the pregnancy.
From Breastfeeding to Introducing Solid Foods
This is a touchy subject, a topic that arouses all kinds of emotion for mothers. Some have trouble breastfeeding and feel guilty that they are unable to give their baby the benefits of breast milk. Some who are able to breastfeed become passionate advocates for it, and it can be difficult during discussions about the issue to find a common ground among mothers where such emotion is involved from women who obviously all want what is best for their children.
The most important point to remember is that babies continue to taste those flavors from a mother's diet through breast milk, which they would not obviously get from formula. If you are a mother who cannot breastfeed for whatever reason, be gentle and gracious with yourself and take some solace in the reminder that your baby did taste those flavors in the womb. You can help your baby again when it's time to begin introducing solid foods by making sure you expose him/her to a wide variety of foods.
I spoke with Dr. Greene, a pediatrician, during one of the online chats he holds, and he stated that parents have a window of opportunity before children begin entering picky eater phases to expose them to a wide variety of flavors and textures. So take advantage of that window of opportunity!
The Most Important Thing to Remember
"This too shall pass!"
Most likely, it is just a phase, so try not to let it stress you out. Try some of these resources and ideas, and maybe some of them will help you through it!
Our #1 Tip Plus BONUS Tip
We learned fairly early on that our kids don't care for bland foods. They like a little flavor. So trying new flavors and flavor combinations, a specialty of my husband's with his culinary background (!), has been really helpful in finding ways that our children will eat things like cauliflower, collard greens, and other vegetables that many children might not otherwise touch. We did try to expose them to these flavors early on, so that may have helped as well.
Children generally eat what is familiar and research shows it takes more than just a few times for a food to become familiar (the exact number it can take is in the book as well!). So if you are trying something new and your child rejects it, keep in mind that it very possibly could be simply because it is new and not that they don't like it, even if that is the way they are expressing they don't want to eat it.
Best Book for Picky Eaters
This book is one of our children's favorites, one that they want to read over and over again. They think it is hilarious how the dinosaurs behave. Perhaps because it sounds all too familiar? Or maybe it's the illustrations.... they are wonderful!
If you have a picky eater, this book will reinforce your efforts to create a mindset with your child as he/she develops regarding healthy eating habits. It also touches on good manners at the table, so it's a great book for any child, not just picky eaters. The author communicates well through the story some of the scenarios that happen every day between children and parents at the table in a way that holds children's attention.
Have you ever had a picky eater?
"Famous" Picky Eaters
Did you know these "famous" people are picky eaters?