We try to make nutritious meals everyone loves but it isn’t always easy, especially if you have a picky eater in your family. You know the one I’m talking about … that one child who won’t eat anything! These tips will help you get through the day on a positive note with your picky eater.
Focus on Getting Food in their Belly!
First of all, your first goal should and always will be, feed them! At the end of the day, if they have food in their bellies they will survive, and you’ve done your job. Thankfully, there are so many options for meals, whether you eat home cooked meals, takeout or depend on prepared delivered meals it’s what works best for your family.
It’s amazing the choices available to families now and it’s important to accept the fact that takeout isn’t just fast food anymore! DIY meal kits to cook at home are also available for delivery. Caterers offer meal delivery options too. Takeout has evolved.
Typically, families who eat together share the same meal, which has many benefits. Choosing not to make separate meals for your children teaches them the food you have offered is good for everyone and is all that’s available to eat at that seating. Children who see the variety that you are offering are more likely to be willing to try something that they see you eating. They are also less likely to ask for an alternative meal if they don’t like what’s being offered.
Of course, eating together is also a great time for family bonding. Keeping meal times a positive experience will minimize the battle and help keep those tummies full.
Focus on the Week
Balancing meals, especially with toddlers is often challenging. Have you ever noticed that one day your child only wants fruit and another day pasta or yogurt? Many children tend to be grazers and crave certain foods one day and something entirely different the next. Instead of stressing over what they didn’t eat that day, look at their diet over the whole week. If you’re concerned about their diet, start a food diary. You’ll feel a lot more relaxed when you look at the results at the end of the week.
Stick to their Favourite Veggies
Vegetables are usually the greatest battle! Typically we can find one maybe two vegetables our children don’t loath. If you have a picky eater, try to include at least one of their favourite vegetables each day, even if it’s cucumber! I find keeping a bag of frozen vegetables available is especially helpful when introducing a new fresh vegetable. If they refuse to try that new scary vegetable, then a bag of frozen peas or corn can make the difference of them eating a vegetable that day!
Get Kids Involved
Growing a garden is a great way to get your picky eater to eat more of a variety of foods. Children who help with the process of planting and caring for the plants will have a new appreciation for food. To be able to see where your food comes from and how it grows is an amazing experience, not to mention the pride they will feel when you’re serving their home grown veggies for dinner! Even if you don’t have room for a full blown veggie garden, a balcony planter box or herb garden in the home can create the same appreciation. Allow your children the option of eating straight from the garden and you’ll be surprised what they’re willing to try!
One of the easiest ways to get your picky eater to consume their fruits and vegetables is to hide them! Just don’t get caught, or that picky eater may become suspicious of even the stuff they love. Cook, puree, finely chop or mash the food so it can be well hidden. Here are some tried and tested tips.
Smoothies – Start slowly by adding a small amount of vegetables with their favourite fruits, and each time increase the hidden ingredient. Choosing dark fruit will help “hide” the colouring of the hidden ingredients and cocoa powder will do the same! Adding small amounts of smoothie/protein boosters, peanut butter, flax or chia seeds are also options.
Muffins – add shredded or finely chopped vegetables or fruit. Using a grain based muffin recipe like Oatmeal is another way to add some nutrition that they won’t notice, especially If you add some chocolate chips in as a distraction.
Soups – Blended soups can hide just about anything! Otherwise finely chop your vegetables so they can swallow them whole.
Spaghetti Sauce – Sautee onion, grated carrots, finely chopped peppers, mushrooms, and spinach too. Puree and blend to your spaghetti sauce. Add your favourite ground meat and they won’t know.
Homemade Mac and Cheese – Steam cauliflower, puree and add it to your cheese sauce, you won’t need a thickener and you get an extra vegetable in.
Remember if you don’t tell your child the ingredient is in the dish, they won’t know!
In the end this is a battle worth fighting because you’re teaching your child important nutritional habits they will need later in life. Keep up the battle and one day your pickiest eater will turn out to the best eater!