Over the past few years we have had many requests inquiring how to feed a picky eater. If you have a picky eater then you are familiar with what a daunting task this can be. We want our children to grow up healthy and strong and along the way develop healthy eating habits to ensure their success. When all a little guy wants is cereal or yogurt that goal may sometimes seem unattainable. Fear not. There is hope. The following is my own account of the struggles we are currently facing and how we deal with them. I have included additional links to posts with further suggestions on how to placate a picky eater.
Like many other households opting for a cleaner choice of foods we choose to limit the types of prepackaged foods in the house to wholesome cereals and breads and low fat dairy. By making the majority of our snacks at home at least I can control what goes into them. I feel better knowing our picky guy is eating something better than just empty calories. Secondly, our picky eater has a major sweet tooth. If it is not in the house he nor I will eat it. If we happen to have crackers in the pantry they are put up where the kids cannot get into them. A picky kid with a taste for sugar is not going to want to eat his chicken and broccoli when there is a pantry filled with crackers and granola bars.
Limit the Treat and Packaged Foods:
Treats are reserved for special occasions such as movie night or dessert with Sunday dinner. By making a few alterations a basic sweet such as a muffin can become a filling snack offering the much needed vitamins and minerals a growing body needs. Some of the variations we make include:
— Replacing regular all-purpose flour with whole wheat, oat or coconut flour. I always add a double tablespoon of wheat germ and ground flaxseed.
— Swap out lard and vegetable oils for canola, olive and coconut oil. Butter instead of margarine.
— Replacing part or all of the refined sugar with pureed vegetables or fruits or natural local honey.
— Adding chopped, pureed and shredded vegetables to snacks and meals.
Restrict Snacking Before Dinner and Other Meal Times:
We follow strict snack times to help tie our kids over until dinner is ready. When kids snack right before dinner time they are less likely to try new foods much less eat their dinner. Our rule is they have to take at least one bite. If we are having salad with chicken and green beans they have to take one bite of each item. Our picky eater will often feign that he does not like something to keep up with his picky appearance. We have caught him sneaking additional bites. We do not make a big deal over it because with his temperament the praise would backfire. We just let him explore on his own while continuing to offer him the good stuff. We want to make dinner a positive experience for him.
For a picky eater trying new foods takes time. It requires working with them to help them overcome their fear. When I am cooking I let him help stir or measure. Sometimes I give him his own bowl and let him create his recipe. It allows him to feel in control as he places each item in the bowl and mixes it with his hands.
Our doctor reassured me our son would not starve. Meanwhile continue to offer the good stuff. Most of all make dinner a positive experience for them. Avoid negative comments and of course never try to force feed your child. Be sure to include something they are likely to eat but avoid making two dinners. Give them time and love and eventually they will come around.
For additional reading on how to placate a picky eater visit the following links: