June 11, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter
I recall countless childhood dinners that ended in tears and with my parents setting a timer for me to clear my plate. As a child, my diet was limited to chocolate milk and pizza (I’m not joking!). My parents were completely baffled by my picky eating habits, and frustrated with trying to get me to consume a well-balanced diet. Many young kids and their parents face this power struggle over food. I am here to assure you that there is hope and ways to get your kids to venture out of their comfort zone and try new, healthy foods. This once picky eater is now an aspiring Registered Dietitian who loves exploring all different kinds of cuisines! Here are some tips to help your kids expand their palates just like I did:
- Do not force your child to eat a certain food: If your child isn’t hungry, she isn’t hungry. Do not bribe or force her to clear her plate if she doesn’t want to. This creates an anxiety and a power struggle between her and food, discouraging her from trying new foods on her own in the future. Introduce new foods in small portions and on her own terms in order to make trying something new less intimidating.
- Routine is important: Have your child eat meals and snacks at the same time every day, ensuring that she will be hungry at regular, designated times each day.
- Patience is key: It may take multiple exposures to a particular food for your child to finally accept it. She is probably apprehensive and needs to try something a couple of times before knowing whether or not she likes it, so remain patient. In order to speed up this process, get your child excited about aspects of the food other than taste, such as the shape or color.
- Have fun with it: It’s all about presentation, so take this opportunity to serve food in fun and exciting ways. Give a boring food a fun name, or use cookie cutters to transform food into appealing shapes.
- Be a good example: Your kids look up to you the most out of everyone they know, so if they see you enjoying healthy food, they will start to think it’s a good idea too!
- Get your kids involved: Take your child to the grocery store or have her help you prepare dinner. She will in turn feel more empowered and involved when it comes to her food choices. Have your child toss or dress the salad before dinner, or pick out the brightest looking apples at the store. She will become excited about trying the meal she helped create and the foods she helped pick out.
Hopefully these tips can help expand the small list of foods your child eats into a long list of nutritious and delicious foods! Do you have any other tips on how to deal with picky eaters?