We all know a picky eater or two. I have two in my household. Getting them to try new foods can be a bit of a challenge, but I have learned a thing or two on how to get them try different things. First, I have always refused to make multiple meals, because while that may sometimes be easier than fighting with them about what they have to eat eat, it doesn’t help anyone in the longrun.
Wondering how to get your picky eater to eat? Sometimes, you just have to outsmart them! Here are some top tips for your picky eater:
Have a Strategy: Approaching snacks and mealtimes with a strategy can help a great deal. It “arms” you, the parent, with a response to begging, not finishing food, and refusal to eat certain foods.
Plan Meals and Snacks: Having meals planned—including snacks (so your child doesn’t have to beg for a snack every day, and you “give in” and let him/her eat junk food)—may help a lot with picky eating. Kids tend to respond positively to a set routine. When you are planning meals, include your picky eater by letting them choose a meal or snack. It will make them feel involved and show them that they have a little control over what they eat.
Keep Foods Simple: Casseroles are tempting because they are easy and inexpensive, but kids tend to shun “mixtures.” You may find that simple, plain foods are actually easier to prepare in the end! Finger foods tend to be a big hit, like sandwiches, vegetables and dip, sliced fruit, and simple pastas are often popular.
Hide the Veggies and Fruits: Fresh veggies and fruits can be whizzed in a blender with jarred spaghetti sauce, cheese dip, and pizza sauce. Kids won’t even know they are there. Speaking of pizza, mince up spinach or zucchini and sprinkle over pizza. Cover with veggie pepperoni and a moderate amount of cheese.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: Give your child choices of what to eat—just make sure that each option is something healthy and acceptable. This helps the child feel like he or she has a “voice,” and also introduces them to variety, which is key to healthy eating.
Make Food Fun: There are a lot of ways to make food fun! You can make landscapes with rice or mashed potatoes as a background; cut fruit and cheese into shapes; and cut bread into shapes as well. There are so many things you can do to make food fun and beautiful to look at—and for some reason, kids tend to like eating these fun landscapes!
Mealtime doesn’t have to be a battle when you have a picky eater. Get everyone on board with a clear strategy and remember to have patience!