4 Tips to Address Picky Eating
“Picky eater” is used to describe a wide range of food-related issues: aversion to specific food textures, consuming too few of a certain food group (ahem, vegetables!), snacking and then failing to eat proper meals, etc. Each food-related issue probably has unique and extensive ways that the issue can be addressed, but there are some pretty simple things that you can do to promote healthy food habits with your children.
Here are four easy tips to get your picky eaters to eat healthier foods:
1. Plan time for a family meal
Make it a goal to eat a meal together as a family at the table (rather than feeding your children separately from yourself and your significant other). Watching parents eat a variety of foods provides good role models for your children. Have enjoyable conversations during mealtime and make the experience pleasurable; the more positives we associate with eating, the greater the chances are that your child will look forward to meals.
2. Introduce a TINY portion of a non-preferred food
If you are aiming to increase your child’s vegetable consumption, and you are starting with peas, literally put one pea on the plate, and gradually build up. Once your child has eaten the one pea, they can have their preferred foods.
3. Create “courses” of food
Rather than giving your child a plate with all of their food on it, create courses. If pasta is the preferred food, and broccoli is the non-preferred food, and they both come out on the same plate together, chances are good that your child will eat all of their pasta and none of their broccoli. However, if broccoli is the first course, and that’s all that is on the plate for everyone at the table, then chances are better that some broccoli will be eaten before the pasta course comes out.
4. Eliminate snacks too close to meals
If your child reliably gets hungry at 4:00, and dinner is usually at 5:30, plan ahead and have some healthy foods for snack. If you allow your child to freely access crackers and chips at 4:00, you’re setting them up for a failed dinner time. Provide a small, healthy snack... maybe even a food that is not terribly preferred (hello vegetables!). But make sure that your child will be adequately hungry for dinner at 5:30.
Used consistently, these simple tips from Parent Like a Professional will promote healthy food habits and get your picky eater to consume healthier foods.