We know they need to eat, after all they are growing kids.
We know we don’t want to fight, who has the energy after a long day?
And we don’t want to turn them off of one of the foods they will actually eat.
Picky eaters are hard work, MAN!
So what’s a parent to do?
Here are my 5 parenting tips for picky eaters:
- Take It Easy
What? You think I’m crazy?
I have heard from parents in all kinds of situations:
The children eat the hot meals at school but won’t touch ______(insert food of choice here) at home. OK. So they won’t eat cooked carrots at home. Give them a veggie they do like. If they have already eaten carrots all week, they don’t need to eat them with you.
Your child will only eat the same three things for lunch everyday? OK. Great. Do what you can to stack breakfast, afternoon snack and dinner with other nutrients they may not be getting at lunch.
Do you see the pattern here? There are around 5 opportunities to get good food into your child. You don’t need to hit every nutrient every time.
- Drink Water
This article is not the time or the place to discuss milk. But I can say this:
Don’t allow your child to fill up on juice, sports drinks or pop. Save the calories for food and your child will be willing to eat more.
- Miracles are Made Over Time
I know you have your child try new foods, or at least encourage it. Well, if they don’t like it today, maybe they will tomorrow…or next month. Keep offering it.
- Don’t Be A Short-Ordered Chef.
It’s OK to cook 5 items and put them all on the table knowing that each child will have at least one healthy item to eat. Encourage them to try new foods using tricks and strategies. If they only eat broccoli for dinner, that’s OK! It’s when we leave the table and make them a PB&J or bagel and spread for dinner that they reject everything on the table. That’s where we are getting ourselves into trouble. We end up teaching them that it’s OK not to eat what’s on the table, mom and dad will just make me what I want.
So it may take a bit of planning, but make sure there is something healthy they will eat once they begin eating.
- Seek Professional Help.
Many parents are not confident that they are feeding their children the best they possibly can. If this is bothering you, get some professional advice. It’s great to have a third party check out your children’s diet. You may learn some tricks, find some new foods for your child to try, or have some peace of mind that you are on the right track.
You’ll want to find someone who is willing to give you individualized advice for your family’s unique situation. I have never met two families that are exactly alike!
Just a few days ago I was in a consult with a lady and we covered all five of these items for her older daughter. I told her not to worry if her daughter doesn’t eat chicken because she eats beans and a list of other good foods. I told her not to offer her an alternative meal and her whole posture changed. She looked so much calmer, confident and happier knowing that her daughter was not malnourished and that the fighting was over. She will require some sessions to talk about strategy going forward, but she can relax once the food is on the table and know her daughter will begin to enjoy different foods over time.
Good luck with your Picky Eaters!
Shoshana is a nutrition coach and has been working with parents and children for over 13 years.
To ask Shoshana a question about your Picky Eaters email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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