How To... Cope With Picky Eaters
Children can be very picky about food, particularly when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Encourage your children to try new foods and form healthy eating habits at a young age with these helpful tips.
Step 1: Set a good example
Don't expect your child to eat his broccoli when you don't even have any vegetables on your plate. Set a healthy example for your picky eater with a variety of nutritious foods on your plate. Also, avoid distractions at mealtime by turning off the TV, getting rid of toys at the table and focusing on the delicious meal at hand.
Step 2: Allow kids to be involved
Involve your kids in the entire meal process, from shopping for groceries to cooking in the kitchen to setting the table. Getting your children involved will more likely get them excited about what they are eating. Even young children can help out in the kitchen by rinsing veggies or stirring batter. Take your kids to the farmers market and let them pick out fresh fruits and vegetables. At home, allow the picky eater to choose the vegetable your family will be eating at mealtime.
Step 3: Create colorful meals
Kids like colors, and are more likely to eat from a visually-pleasing plate than a bland one. Fortunately, eating a rainbow of foods is very healthy for both adults and children. You can also add brightly-colored bits of food to otherwise plain meals to make them more appealing and tasty, such as adding chopped red and yellow bell peppers to meatloaf.
Step 4: Stop snacking
Your picky eater isn't going to be hungry for dinner if she is snacking all afternoon. Eliminate snacks in your home (or limit them to one nutritious item per day, such as an apple) to ensure your children will be ready to eat their meals.
Step 5: Offer a variety
If you know your kids like chicken nuggets or mac and cheese, find ways to offer them in combination with nutritious foods. For example, you can add ground turkey and broccoli to macaroni for a hearty, healthy meal. Chicken nuggets can be combined with fresh veggies and salsa, then stuffed in a pita pocket.
Step 6: Sneak in healthy foods
If your picky child still avoids veggies like the plague, you can sneak them into foods. Pureed carrots, zucchini and other items can be added to spaghetti sauce, gravy, muffin mix and more. Your child won't be able to tell the difference, and you'll feel better that he is at least getting some vegetables.
Step 7: Keep trying
Don't give up when your children refuse a food. Encourage them to try at least three bites of a new food at a meal, then reintroduce the food at a later date. Keep in mind that it can take up to 10 tries before a baby or toddler likes a particular food. Also, try these other tips to help your children eat their veggies and other healthy foods.
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