My 10-year-old daughter Alina has always been a picky eater. I’m talking about the kid who doesn’t like anything on the kid’s menu. The one who isn’t a fan of chicken nuggets, burgers or even mac and cheese. The type of kid who orders buttered noodles or only wants a side of fries for dinner. That’s my girl!
Most people tell parents of picky eaters to starve their kids and then they will listen, right? So wrong! A tried and true picky-eater would much rather starve than eat that lasagna you have to offer. It’s not really an option and if you have a picky eater you understand this dilemma.
After becoming a Vegan family, I realized Alina being a picky eater wasn’t such a bad thing. There was less food for her to miss, less unhealthy habits to break. I try to follow these 5 tips and hope they will help you and your picky-eater to introduce new foods into their diet.
Make food fun
At the beginning of this year I started a “Picky Eater” game with Alina and so far, it has been wildly successful. Here’s how the game works. She has 5 food tickets a week that she must earn to get 1 reward ticket. I made the food tickets so I could customize them and she made the reward tickets. Not only was it a fun process but she is willing to at least try a few bites of new foods to earn that reward!
If games are not your cup of tea there are plenty of other ways to make food fun! Let your little ones pick out one healthy item at the store, allow them in the kitchen or start a garden! The options are endless and adding even one new food to a picky eater’s diet is a triumph.
Just make dinner
One thing I have learned over the past 10 years of raising my picky eater is I should never ever ever ever ask her what she wants to eat. I find that the second I ask, it is more hassle than anything. Yes, you want your kid to eat so just make dinner and put it on a plate. Keeping things uncomplicated is the way to go!
Don’t use punishments with food
If I was to punish Alina every time she didn’t eat all her lunch or dinner she would be grounded for the rest of her life. I find that punishments do not get me anywhere and it puts added stress on the whole subject of food. It’s all about balance. Allow the good with the bad. Dessert is part of a balanced life. If they eat the veggies give them the chocolate!
Don’t force a meal
Respect your child’s appetite. If they are truly hungry they will tell you. You don’t want to turn a picky-eater into an over eater. Don’t teach a child how much to eat teach them what to eat. Nutrition first!
Be a role model
If you’re not making healthy choices how can your little ones? Don’t buy the junk! Try new foods together, fill your plate with greens, have an unprocessed snack. Crazy concepts, right? WE must be the role model, we are teaching our children the proper eating habits that may stick with them the rest of their life. Whenever I get a chance I try to teach Alina not only what is healthy but why. I encourage healthy choices and praise her when she makes them.
They say taste buds change every 5-7 years so you can expect this process to take some time. If you start them young they will already have a leg up on their nutrition game for adulthood. Keep these tips in mind and remember to relish in the little triumphs with your picky eater.