Some days I feel like dinnertime can be a real fight. When you have a picky eater, it can be tough to get through a meal without whining, complaining or refusing to eat what is served. It’s time to stop the food fight. Here are some tips for picky eaters you can implement tonight and begin to shift your child’s eating habits.
1. Have a Strategy
Approaching snacks and mealtimes with a strategy can help a great deal. It arms you to better manage your child’s begging, not finishing food and a refusal to eat certain foods. Read on for some specifics on strategy.
2. Loosen the Control Grip
Unfortunately, parents often grab for more control when there’s a situation that needs “correcting” – whether it’s an overweight child or a picky eater. The problem with this, though, is that it may create an obsession with “forbidden” foods,or set your child up to make excuses to reward him or herself by eating comfort foods.
In an era when more than half of Americans are overweight, we need to take special care not to set our kids up for a weight struggle later in life. So relax, and focus on teaching your child to listen to his or her body and focus on healthy eating.
3. Plan Meals and Snacks
Having meals planned may help a lot with picky eating. Display the menu on the fridge. And if your child can’t read yet, consider using a visual meal calendar. Also think about planning your snacks. This will help curb your child from begging for a particular snack every day, leading you to give in and let him/her eat junk food. It may take a while to get your child on board, but in the end, kids tend to respond positively to routine.
4. Keep Foods Simple
Casseroles are tempting because they are easy and inexpensive, but kids tend to shun “mixtures.” I know mine do! Besides, 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.
5. Hide the Veggies and Fruits
Fresh veggies and fruits can be whizzed in a blender with jarred spaghetti sauce, cheese dip and pizza sauce. Speaking of pizza, mince up spinach or zucchini and sprinkle over pizza. Cover with veggie pepperoni and a moderate amount of cheese.
6. 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 in what is eaten and also introduces them to variety that is a key to healthy eating.
7. Create Funny Food
Check Pinterest for fun ways to prepare food. 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 somehow, kids tend to like eating these fun landscapes!
8. Ask If Something More is Going On
If your child really has a hard time with eating or consistently refuses to eat and/or gags while eating, it’s time to consider if something bigger is going on. Some kids have serious sensory food aversions which affect their ability to eat. The idea that these children will outgrow these feeding issues (or eat if they’re hungry enough) is false and requires intervention.
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