How to Handle a Picky Eater

August 25, 2015

Let’s be honest: it’s no fun to slave over the stove cooking up a delicious recipe, only to discover your kids won’t eat it. If your child is a picky eater, don’t give up. Here are some tips to encourage your child to overcome their pickiness and eat healthy food:

Don’t Force It

If your child really isn’t hungry, don’t try to force them to eat. You want to form healthy habits, but forcing your child to eat when they aren’t hungry can make mealtime traumatic and cause them to develop unhealthy relationships with food as they age. Of course, if you don’t overload them with snacks, they won’t be full when dinner time comes.

Have Fun

Mealtime can be playful. Kids should be encouraged to touch and play with food so it doesn’t seem foreign. If chicken nuggets and cookies are the only things cut into fun shapes, why is it any surprise that’s all they want to eat? Plenty of healthy fruits, vegetables, and grains can be presented in a fun and playful way.

Be Patient

Kids often need to be exposed to foods multiple times before they eat it. They need to see it, smell it, and touch it before tasting it. When they do finally try it, talk about the colour, size, scent, or texture of the food, not just its taste. Children expect food to taste bad, so make them forget this expectation.

Grocery Shopping

A lot of the battles come when your child doesn’t want to eat carrots, because they know there are Bear Paws in the cupboard. It starts at the grocery store – don’t buy foods you won’t want your child to eat. Take them to the outer aisles of the store, and let them help you pick between two options. Should we have salmon or halibut? Broccoli or cauliflower? Red or green grapes?

Help in the Kitchen

Your child will be more likely to eat things when they had a hand in making them. Vegetables no longer seem like some alien thing that landed on their plate. Get your child to help you in the kitchen with rinsing or peeling veggies, stirring sauces, and other age-appropriate tasks.

Stay Strong

When you’re dealing with a picky eater, it’s all too easy to give in and make them special requests every night. The problem is, this just promotes the problem. They might even turn aside a meal they actually enjoy, if a freshly cooked grilled cheese is the alternative. Stay strong and limit your “menu” to one option. Even if your child refuses to eat, they should still sit at the table with the family.

If picky eating remains a major concern, you should consult your child’s pediatrician for further recommendations.



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