“I don’t like it! It’s gross! I’m not eating it.” I love hearing this when my kids haven’t even TRIED their food. UGH-Is there anything more frustrating than sitting with a child that will not eat?
Picky Eaters are in every family, and if someone tells you their child was never picky growing up…they’re LYING. Okay, I’m sure there are some amazing children out there with fantastic palettes but basically every child is picky at some point, even if we do everything we can to avoid it. We all go through it, and I have some points that will help every parent. And the earlier you start, the better.
1. Lead By Example
Whether you believe it or not, kids emulate their parents. They are always watching. I know because I haven’t had privacy in about five years. You are their number one example for everything in life (you realize when you hear your child swear for the first time…Oh S#!&), and eating behaviours are no different. If you eat well, they will too. If you come home and throw out a bag of fast food every day, they will see it, believe me. Start to make your own food and use fresh, real, whole ingredients as much as possible. Eat with your kids and show them that you eat fruit, vegetables and a rainbow of foods.
2. Offer New Foods Often
Parents! If you don’t like mushrooms (and I don’t like mushrooms) that is no reason to not let your children TRY them. Have a homemade pizza night, put them on and see what happens. I like to make a veggie tray for my kids and let them nosh on it while I eat dinner. I’ll always add carrots and cucumbers, but occasionally I’ll add something they don’t always eat-like peppers, jicama or cauliflower. They might not eat it…but one time they might-and that will be the BEST. DAY. EVER.
Also, it can take over TEN TIMES of offering a new food for a child to like try it. JUST TO TRY IT! So the mission for parents is to channel our inner Zen and not lose our minds when Offer #9 comes around…and do it again…and again…and possibly again. Keep giving it, and one day, they’ll HAVE to try it…right? Right!
3. Let Them Shop With You
No ladies, I’m not talking about taking your kids to pick up toilet paper or get new shoes. I mean GROCERY shopping. As frustrating as it can be sometimes, take them with you. Even if you’re just picking up milk. Maybe stop by the produce aisle and let them pick a new fruit…even one you haven’t seen or tried before. There’s some weird and new stuff out there-the whole family might discover something they like! Plus, when kids have a hand in shopping and cooking, they are much more likely to have a bite. Let them get messy in the kitchen. Could make for a stress free dinner time…even if making dinner is slightly more maddening.
4. Don’t Give In
The hardest part! I know, I know…it’s so easy to give them something you KNOW they’ll eat. Let me comfort you with this: They will not die if they don’t eat dinner. Look at their nutrition over the course of a week. If they eat breakfast and lunch, have some solid snacks and don’t swallow a bag of sugar every day, they will be ok and you’re doing great! Feeding kids isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it doesn’t have to make you cry yourself to sleep at night. At the very least, try this: If they love chicken nuggets, make your own. If they love pizza, make your own! You can do it and it will be healthier and cheaper in the long run. Seek help if you need it and take a deep breath. Maybe today will be the day the kids say “I love this Mom! Can I have seconds?”
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