Tips for Picky Eaters

It is common today to hear parents say "My son is a picky eater" or "getting my kids to eat vegetables is so difficult." What most people don't realize is part of getting your kids to eat healthy is training their taste buds.
training taste buds

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Training Children's Taste Buds

Training their taste buds involves more than giving them exactly what they want every night for dinner. 
It is trying new foods, often times repeatedly along with their favorite foods. If all someone eats is sugary or processed foods that is what their taste buds will know and always crave.

It takes kids 5-6 times of seeing and tasting something new before kids will decide they like it. You can start making healthy choices by replacing foods with wholesome foods. Wholesome foods are all natural foods that your great grandparents ate. For example, not Twinkies and chips but applesauce, whole wheat bread and the types of food grown in a garden and on fruit trees.

Try introducing one new vegetable or fruit a day or once a week at least to your family. Allow kids to try a bite or two. We have a rule at our house that you are 3 so you need to take 3 bites. Usually when they are 8-9, they don't have to be told to take a certain amount of bites, they'll just do it. This doesn't have to be torturous but something fun. Have them rate the food on a rating scale or other way like thumbs up, thumbs down.

Even if your kids don't seem to be enjoying trying and tasting new foods. Don't give up. You can also include pureed vegetables in your cooking so they are getting the nutrition they need. However, also include vegetables on the side so they can get use to "seeing" their vegetables.

Little by little they will be training their taste buds to enjoy good healthy food. Try different recipes and combinations and get your kids in the kitchen helping. Kids can wash and scrub vegetables, peel and toss a salad together. Older kids that can use a knife properly can cut and prepare vegetables. Get kids involved, knowledgeable about good foods and enjoying meal time.

See more healthy eating tips.

Help for your Picky Eater

feeding dog at the tableThese tips for picky eaters are for you parents with kids who just don't like to eat or like to eat the same thing everyday and never try something new. Picky eaters can make life interesting, especially when it comes time to prepare meals.

All children go through a phase of being picky eaters to some extent while they are learning and growing; it is the children who continue this phase and remain picky long term who can have dietary problems including vitamin deficiency.

As a parent you have to make sure your child is getting enough of the essential nutrients to remain healthy. When you have a picky eater you have to find ways of getting those nutrients in your child. Here are some tips for picky eaters and suggestions to help you through this.

Picky Eaters Tips

  1. It is important to remember that a toddler or preschooler isn't going to eat as much as a teenager or an adult. If you serve a large plate of food to a toddler or a preschooler they will most likely eat what they like most and get full then stop eating. If you want your child to get a well rounded meal with foods from each of the groups within the food pyramid you need to offer a small portion of food from each group to your child. Instead of allowing the child to eat all of the fruit (or whatever their favorite portion is) and skip the rest of the meal, giving a little bit from each group makes your child eat a more balanced meal. I have one child like this he would fill up on the fruit salad and skip the rest of the meal!

  2. Showing an example of proper eating habits is important. Instead of commenting on foods being bad or good, you need to show children good eating habits by example.

  3. If your child won't try certain foods try them in different forms. See if you can hide it in another dish. Often soups and stews are a great place to sneak in vegetables and even meats. If your child is picky about eating vegetables you can grate them and add them to meatloaf or you can make a sauce and pour them over pasta.

  4. My favorite tips for picky eaters is to let your kids help you cook. Pizza is a favorite of several children. Letting them make their own pizzas with healthy toppings is another way of getting these nutritious foods into your children.

  5. Choosing a new food item to try weekly is an excellent way to widen the number of foods that your child will eat. Make it a family outing to the grocery store, produce stand or farmer's market and let your children pick something new to try this week. Your children will learn to try new foods and you might find a new favorite along the way.

  6. If your child is a picky eater it is important to allow your child a choice of healthy foods to eat daily. Don't force any or insist on your child eating everything that is served. If your child is eating from one food group only then cut back on choices from that group while increasing the foods you are allowing from other food groups.

  7. Cut back on choices that are from non-nutritive sources. Watch out for empty calories from foods such as diet soda, french fries, chips, fast food, even juice, they can fill up on these and not want the "good stuff."

  8. Involve kids in menu planning as well as helping prepare the meal. If they want chicken nuggets every night. Help them see we need variety in our menu. Create a healthy meal plan with their help. When serving the all time family favorites, try some new things along the side, such as a salad or new vegetable.
picky eater bites
A tip for picky eaters parents is to try not to add too much pressure into eating healthy. If your child is getting their recommended calories and eating nutritious foods, even if they are the same foods everyday, then they probably are eating okay. Continue to offer healthy and nutritious foods and as they grow they're likely to come around.

5 Tips for Picky Eaters

Do you have meal ideas or tips for picky eaters to share?

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