Most children are picky eaters and rebel against eating vegetables and healthy meals. Getting a picky eater eat balanced nutritional food is an everyday battle, oftentimes conquered by the child.
However, food nutritionists state that children are normally ‘Neophopic’, which denotes ‘fear of trying’ out new or foreign things (food, in this case). So what parents perceive as tantrums is actually kids’ normal response to new foods. Learning to get over the fear is the natural phenomenon in developing children. Also, know that 78% of children with picky eating inherit the habit from their parents.
Hence, instead of fussing around, from these useful tips parents of picky eaters will be able to find their answers.
25 Tips for Parents of Picky Eaters
1) Know Your Child’s Favourites
Kids eat more types of food than you know. So observe them closely to know their tastes.
2) Avoid Overloading Plates
Therefore, start with smaller portions. Once your kid finishes the first course, proceed to serve more.
3) Early Exposure to Food Stays Forever
It is recommended to introduce your child to healthier food options at a very young age. They will be able to habituate with the food quicker.
4) Schedule Meal and Snack Time
Kids like following routine. So, they will be responsible in eating whatever is placed before them in that particular hour. They will also develop hunger on the scheduled time.
5) Add New Elements in Your Child’s Favourites
Thusly, will they not only relish the food, but also get the balanced diet parents seek. Try fruit muffins, mixed veg pancakes, sliced veggies in potato salad etc. for healthier plans.
6) Shop Groceries and Prepare Meals Together
When kids cook or shop with parents, it is most likely that ownership over meal making may help kids eat their creation easily
7) Don’t Force Food on Your Child
Children know when their appetite is full. Avoid the ‘clean your plate’ chant completely.
8) Give Only Fewer Food Choices
Without too many options, your child will be able to decide what they want to eat sensibly.
9) Try-out Finger Foods
Finger foods are easy to handle and easy to run around with. Try serving cooked or raw wedges of fruits and veggies as options.
10) Avoid Buying Junk Foods
Instead of cookies and French fries, choose wholesome foods while shopping. Kids will follow suit and pick up the same habit.
Also Read: 11 Dangerous Foods you Should Never Eat
11) Lead by Example
If you want your child to eat broccoli and spinach, you eat them too. Show your child that you eat and try new foods too.
12) Colour It Up
Children easily get attracted to colours. So, while cooking don’t loose on the crunch and colour of the veggies. This way, not only will the food’s nutrients be intact but kids will also enjoy a variety of brightly coloured options.
13) Introduce Healthier Cooking
Modifications in your cooking ways will definitely make a huge difference in your kids eating practice. For instance, instead of serving fried nuggets try baking, substitute whole grains & nuts for dry-fruit milk shakes and skimmed milk and water for fruit juice.
14) Try not Restricting, but Teach
Restricting children to eat certain foods (desserts) will only increase the desirability for that food leading to overeating. Instead of controlling, make your kid understand the difference between healthy ‘all time foods’ and unhealthy ‘sometimes foods’.
15) Make Eating Fun
Introduce meal time fun activities where your child will get to relish food through taste, touch and feel. Few plays include
- Guessing game
- Naming their creations
- Creating patterns with veggies
- Friend Buddy etc.
16) Use Creativity While Plating
Cookie cutters are quite helpful in cutting veggies into desired shapes. You can also try giving broccolis, cauliflowers, greens and peppers forms of trees and plants.
17) Avoid Cooking as Per Order
If your child rejects the original meal you have cooked, don’t volunteer to prepare a special meal for him. Ask him to eat what is served and discourage stubbornness.
18) Avoid Distractions
Avoid using video games, TV or phone during meal times. Make it a family affair where your child eats his meals consciously savouring the taste.
19) Change Eating Places
Once in a while change of place may promote increased ingestion. For instance, instead of choosing to eat at the regular place, try another corner or area of the home.
20) Develop Happy Atmosphere
Kids grow and develop healthy attitude when the family atmosphere during meal time is positive and devoid of fights and arguments.
21) Similar Flavours
Substitute similar tasting items for adding nutritional value. Add shrimps or soya nuggets instead of chicken nuggets and the like.
22) Offer New Food in the Beginning
Children are usually hungry in the beginning of a meal, and introducing a new food in the beginning will prove advantageous.
23) Don’t Order Your Child To Eat
He may avoid that particular food altogether in protest. Instead tell the goodness of the item served and coax them into eating it.
24) Bring in Varieties
Everyday prepare a different veggie or food item to understand your child’s likings. Include even the ones you don’t like.
25) Check for Food Allergies
Your child may be allergic to certain foods which results in picky eating habits. Diet observation and paediatrician consultation is the right action plan to resolve the issue.
An Interesting Read: Warning! Are You Reheating These Foods That Could Kill You?
If your child is a picky eater, although it may be frustrating, don’t stress but behave like a saint. Don’t give-in and serve healthy choices until they are familiar with the routine. However, if you’re still concerned about his/her growth consult a paediatric dietician to formulate a food chart. But I am sure the above tricks and tips will jiggle a lot of your unwarranted burden off your shoulder.
Do share your favourite meal time trick for your picky eater with us below.