Is Your Child a Picky Eater? Here are Tips to Handle one

February 12, 2020

Is your child picky with her meals? Yes it can be a problem. But no, not a huge one (thank goodness!). Handling a picky eater has always been a struggle for parents.

We all want our kids to be healthy, energetic and strong. Eating balanced meals is essential to your child’s growth so it’s important to have variety when serving meals. The last thing we want is for them to skip meals and miss out on all that good stuff—all the nutrients they can get out of broccoli, leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to bring back the appetite in your child and get them to enjoy mealtimes again.  

Don’t be too controlling with mealtimes

Kids being kids, there’s a myriad of reasons for why they become picky with food. These reasons can range from their personality, the lack of food variety, their maternal eating behavior, or even reluctance to try out new foods are pretty common.

Power struggle is one of the highest causes for a child to get picky with meals. When parents put pressure on kids to finish their meals, they have a tendency to get anxious and later refuse which can result in skipping meals altogether. 

Skip the struggle and encourage a positive attitude for mealtimes by not forcing your child to eat when they’re not hungry. Doing this won’t mean you’re starving them or taking their nutrition for granted.

Many parents grew up as members of the “clean plate club”. But the mindset of eating everything on your plate simply because it’s there fails to honor our bodies’ signals regarding when we’re hungry, satisfied, or full. This can lead to obesity and other problems.

Start with a positive attitude and you’ll both be happier during mealtimes. Just make sure to leave enough healthy food for them to snack on in the fridge in case they get hungry between meals. 

Stick to a routine

Whether it be a casual snack time or regular meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner, you should go stick to a regular routine. That may be a struggle, especially with a busy schedule, but try as much as possible. 

Snacking is tricky, considering the number of times a day kids need or want them.

Consistency helps build routine by setting patterns and expectations for your child.

Involving them in the process gives them power to decide what to eat. It keeps them engaged before and after meals. Remember that eating meals together covers a wide range of benefits, including keeping the family together.

 

Go easy on introducing new food

Going on an all-vegetable meal can be tricky. Picky eaters tend to focus on vegetables as the main category of food they prefer to avoid.

Introducing a new one is a tricky subject. There may be some getting used to, especially when you introduce new flavors. (Hint: Try themed meal nights such as barbecue nights, Oriental dinner, or Mediterranean.)

Raise their interest in things and encourage them go for it rather than pushing them to eat it no matter what. The latter may make picky eaters more stubborn rather than getting them to accept it.

Go small at first. Introduce the concept of a “no thank you portion”. Make it a policy that everyone must try at least a small amount of everything that’s served. That might mean only 3-4 peas or one floret of broccoli. (The exception would be if someone has a food allergy. Forcing someone to eat foods they are allergic to could lead to a medical emergency.)

Sometimes you can introduce alternatives like adding tofu to a soup. Or try grilled cabbage or squash with barbecue. Broccoli on pasta.

Making a new food simply an accent or a side dish rather than an entree can really make the difference when introducing new flavors to your child.

Cut Down on Fast Food

It is easy these days to get fast food or even to get things delivered right to your doorstep.

Pizza? Sure. Chinese? Yeah. Burgers? Why not?

That may seem easier than cooking a meal at the end of a long work day or preparing one before you start the day. Especially when you have children.

Unfortunately, giving in to the fast food temptation may actually promote turning your child into a picky eater as they grow.

One solution may be to enlist your child’s help in preparing meals. This is a good way to get them off their devices and help build a better attitude toward eating.

Keep mealtimes enjoyable

Try to make things fun. Making it fun can be simple, like getting a hand while chopping or asking kids to wash the vegetables. Little by little, you’ll get their interest and eventually make picky eating a thing of the past. 

Working with a child who’s a picky eater can truly be a challenge. Overcoming that will bring more joy and excitement to your parent-child relationship.

Ready to take the next step for your child? Everley Rose Center has a team of staff that is trained to bring out the best in your kids, allowing them to achieve their full potential in a safe and nurturing environment. Call us at 1-817-225-6831 or visit everleyrose.com to learn more!

 

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