Tips for Dealing with a Picky Eater
All parents want their children to embrace a healthy, balanced diet, but offers of fruits and vegetables are often met with complaints, tears and outright refusals to eat. Giving into a child’s demands for unhealthy options can seem the best choice for a mom or dad desperate for a kid to get any nourishment at all. Fortunately, there are ways to encourage picky eaters to try, and learn to enjoy, healthier foods.
Hiding healthy ingredients in foods your child actually likes gets him or her eating better without even knowing it. So become creative in adding vegetables to your child’s favorite recipes. Puree broccoli and red peppers and add them to the marinara sauce you use to top the spaghetti and meatballs your kid loves. Spaghetti squash can be prepared to look almost exactly like pasta noodles. Mixing in cauliflower with kids’ all-time favorite mashed potatoes is easy. Turkey burgers and meatloaf also easily disguise pulverized veggies.
You can even sneak some vegetables into desserts. Several great recipes call for adding pureed black beans to brownie mixes or for using processed carrots to thicken cake batter.
Rather than give in to your kid’s demands for junk food, find ways to keep them eating nutritious options that look like foods they enjoy. If your little one gags at the thought of fried eggs and toast, serve leftover grilled chicken stir-fry for breakfast. Mix it in with scrambled eggs and wrap the combination in a whole wheat tortilla to make a breakfast burrito. For lunch, substitute the buckwheat pancakes your child is crazy about for the whole wheat bread she or she won’t touch. With a couple of slices of lean ham serving as the filling, a flapjack sandwich is as good as one made with bread, and more appealing for your picky eater. Bending the rules rather than breaking them makes everyone happier and healthier.
Get the kid into the kitchen
Serving up a mysterious mound of quinoa or a strange-looking pile of peas is a guaranteed way to get your kid to put up a fight come dinnertime. Foods adults consider commonplace can seem exotic and scary to children. To overcome this, invite your child to help prepare meals. This lets him or her see that unfamiliar foods are edible. It’s also a fun bonding experience that gives your child a sense of pride in creating what winds up on his or her plate. Most importantly, a kid is likely to at least try a dish he or she prepared. Sometimes, a feeling of accomplishment is all it takes to inspire a child to explore different flavors.
Wars waged at mealtimes can cause even the best parents to wave the white flag. Don’t give up! Following the tips outlined here can put you on the path to ending protests over good foods.