Picky eaters make parents worry about meal planning, nutrition, and their own parenting abilities. Want to join me in my new challenge?
I received some invaluable advice from two child nutritionists on picky eaters to help me turn around my four-year-old’s picky eating habits. I feel like I have a solid plan and will work it for the next few months and report back to them.
It actually begins at the grocery store…
Grocery Shopping for Picky Eaters
Allow each child to take turns picking a new fruit or vegetable during each grocery trip. Once home, divide the new food so that each member of the family can try it. Try to buy a variety of produce, to include favorites of each member of the family. Discuss how it tastes. Was it soft? firm? sweet? bitter? Should we buy it again?
Picky Eaters Do Meal Prep
Ask the kids to help with meal planning. What will be the main entree, vegetables, dessert? Then, allow and encourage them to help with meal prep. Can they wash, cut, arrange anything? Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes and get creative with decorating the selections. (Remember – presentation, presentation, presentation.) See this list of age-appropriate tasks children can help with, in the kitchen.
Enjoying a Meal with Picky Eaters
Offer what you have prepared for dinner. If possible, include a fruit, starch, or vegetable option that the child prefers, as part of the night’s menu. Allow the child to decide if he wants to eat. Don’t make a fuss. Rather, enjoy family time socializing.
What If My Children Are Still Picky Eaters (or Refuse to Eat)?
If he does not want to eat what has been prepared, then no other food choices will be offered. Refrigerate the leftover plate, in case the child decides later to eat. Keep him hydrated.
Desperate times call for desperate measures – do not purchase any of the child’s favorite junk food (cookies, chips, or other foods that may be considered unhealthy). Do not offer or allow any of those “junk foods” until the child has begun to try new foods and began eating a more widespread, healthy diet.
Offer a favorite meal (like a grilled cheese sandwich) as a special treat for lunch on the weekend.
Photo Source: D. Sharon Pruit
Ways to Ensure Picky Eaters Get Fruits & Vegetables
Serve them in a variety of ways: raw, steamed, crunchy, and soft. Make it a game by experimenting with many shapes, sizes, and colors. Offer smoothies to include milk and pureed fruit (and vegetables). Learn about new foods and research as a family. Make fruits and veggies easily and readily available for snacks and at meals.
Nevertheless, don’t forget how fun plating and creativity with the design can bring variety and excitement when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables. Toddler tableware and baby suction bowls with many amazing cute-looking shapes and sizes can make the experience of experimenting with and trying new foods cleaner, easier and more fun. They have enticing features like divided sections for multiple foods and adorable designs that encourage kids to get excited to try the new food.
Photo Source: D. Sharon Pruit
My eleven-year-old was a pretty picky eater. With time, I learned more about his food preferences and incorporated them into my meal plans. I remember learning that he liked baby carrots when we were at a school party. I never bought them because I didn’t like them. He still eats them regularly to this day.