Is your kid a picky eater? Is mealtime a constant struggle? Are you constantly googling how to get your kid to eat better?
Look, I’ll admit it, picky eaters are a pain in the butt. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, your kid just wants to eat carbs all day. You can try the whole hide black beans in the brownies or make your famous veggie lasagna, but for true picky eaters, that ain’t gonna fly. They’ll sniff it out.
Here’s the thing though, picky eaters aren’t the end of the world.
I have three kids and only one is a picky eater. Does it make my life a little harder? Yes. But is it a big deal? No. It’s more of an inconvenience than anything.
10 Tips for Dealing with a Picky Eater
- Don’t fight it- It’s not worth the constant struggle. I hate to say it but in this scenario, it is what it is. Understand, for whatever reason, your kid doesn’t like certain foods and that’s ok.
- Lower your expectations– If you expect less, you won’t be as disappointed if your picky eater doesn’t enjoy certain foods. You may have spent an hour working on dinner so don’t be upset when your kid rejects it. It’s not personal.
- Serve the healthier version of junk– If your kid loves pasta, serve wheat, chickpea, or lentil pasta instead of white. Chip lover? Tried the baked version or chips made from sweet potatoes or other veggies. Or maybe try making your own chips (kale or sweet potato). Loves chocolate? Offer dark chocolate chips as dessert with fruit. THERE IS ALWAYS AN ALTERNATIVE. Sometimes, it just may require a little bit of creativity.
- No GRAZING. Only big meals.- Eliminate snacks. By doing this, your child will actually be hungry during mealtime and thus more inclined to eat what is provided. If they snack before dinner, they probably won’t be as hungry and won’t eat much off their plate.
- No sugary beverages and stick to water– This isn’t a tip as much as it is a habit but still, important. With my son, he naturally has a sweet tooth so I do my best avoid sugary beverages. Why? Because they’re empty calories.
- Lead by example. Look, I hate to say it but leading by example will help your situation. There were times I’d buy Oreos and then expect my picky eater (my son) to not eat them. WRONG. That would be cruel to eat an Oreo in front of someone and not share.
- Try to get them involved cooking– Sometimes this works and something it doesn’t, but it’s absolutely worth a try. Kids love to feel like a part of the action and if they’re mixing and pouring ingredients, they’re going to be more inclined to try the finish product. This is actually how I got my son to eat my healthy banana pancakes.
- Avoid forcing bites or commenting on intake– Does forcing anyone to do anything every end well? Nope. It’s annoying and you don’t need to nag your children any more than you already do.
- No separate meals– Do not, I repeat do not make separate meals for your picky eater. Why? Because you’re only reinforcing this behavior. I make what I make and if my son doesn’t eat it, I’ll offer things that are always made (fruit, premade pasta, cheese, yogurt, etc). Sometimes his dinner is more of a smorgasboard, but I’m certainly not making multiple dinners.
- Remember, you’re in control. As a parent, you’re 100% responsible fo what your child eats. You buy the groceries, you make the meals. So if your kid is eating crap all day, stop buying crap. I’m not saying to put a crudité platter in front of your picky eater, but you’re in charge of what’s in your fridge and pantry.
Bottom line, picky eaters aren’t so bad.
Every parent wants an explanation or some magical answer to fix this problem. But it’s not a problem, your kid just doesn’t like certain foods. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read hoping to find a solution on how to get my kid to eat more veggies.
Would it make life easier if your kid just ate what the rest of the family ate? Yes, but who said parenthood was easy? NO. ONE. EVER. Yes, I’m yelling so you get the full effect. The way you approach a picky eater and your attitude are half the battle. Lets just hope they grow out of it. Fingers crossed. They can’t live off goldfish and cheerios forever.