Picky Eaters get a bad rap.
I’m speaking from experience. Not only have I given birth to several picky eaters, I just so happen to be one, myself!
I’m pretty sensitive to food textures. I don’t like a lot of spices on my food. Honesty, sometimes I won’t eat something simply because I don’t like the way it looks. In fact, one of my earliest memories was me sitting at my kitchen table crying because my mom made fish for dinner….and well, it still looked like a fish.
Over the years, I have been on a quest to learn how to eat healthy and get my family on board with healthy eating.
It hasn’t always been easy.
I share that, because I think that people automatically assume that because of my role at Maple Tree, because I’m a vegan, because I’m an Exercise Physiology Professor, because I actually like vegetables – that my children just naturally came out of the womb eating Kale.
I really wish that was the case, but it’s not. My kids weep and gnash their teeth at the sight of anything green. They would much rather I made pancakes and Mac and Cheese every night for dinner.
Over the years, I have learned some tips and tricks that have helped get my kiddo’s on board with healthy eating.
In today’s blog, I want to share them with you! My hope is that this will help equip you to get even the pickiest of eaters in your home to embrace healthy eating!
- Don’t give up! Offer a new food to your children with most meals – but don’t force foods. It often takes at least 8 exposures to a new food before a child decides whether he or she likes (or will even try) it!
- Make snacks count. Make snack time nutritious by offering healthy snacks – such as fresh fruit or homemade granola.
- Offer fruit at every meal. Most kids will eat fruit – so make sure it is available to them! The rule in my house is that my kids can eat fruit whenever they want. They don’t even have to ask first!
- Offer vegetables first. If the child is hungry at meal time, he/she will be more likely to eat those veggies if they are offered first!
- Small bites can help! One way to help your child become accustomed to new flavors is by giving him or her foods in smaller quantities. Try shredding or dicing vegetables into really small bites. I have even been known to sneak in some pureed vegetables into my cake mix and my children have been none the wiser!
- Get rid of the junk food. Out of sight, out of mind! If the junk food isn’t in the house, your kids can’t eat it! I will admit that in this post-COVID world, if our snack supply gets a little low the kids get a little panicked….But it does help keep their intake of junk food down! Save the junk food for special occasions, and keep healthy options on hand.
- Kids in the Kitchen! One of my favorite things to do with my kids is cook with them. I’ve learned that involving them in the cooking process will increase their chances of trying the food they make – even when it is healthy! Depending on their age, your child can help add ingredients, stir, sprinkle cheese, and even cut (if they are old enough!). Don’t be afraid to include them!
- Dip it! Sometimes pairing a new food with a dip is a great way to get your child to try it! Who doesn’t love a good dip?!
- Make your favorites healthy! Try different ways to make their favorite foods healthier by substituting greek yogurt for heavy creams or even adding vegetable purees to baking mixes! Read “The Sneaky Chef” for some great ideas on this!
- Be a good role model! Make healthy choices in front of your child. They are watching you and you can be teaching them healthy habits that will stick with them for the rest of their life!