I’m excited to have Orlena Kerek guest posting today! Mealtime battles can be challenging, so I turned to an expert for advice about turning your picky eater into a healthy eater:
If you have a picky eater in the family, it can turn mealtimes into a real struggle. Either dinner time becomes a battle ground, or you end up feeding them what you know they’ll like. Gradually their diet becomes narrower and narrower and introducing new foods becomes more and more difficult.
The best way to deal with a picky eater is with patience and persistence.
Variety is the spice of life. More importantly, the more variety your children eat, the more likely they are to eat and try new foods. It’s really important to keep offering them new foods.
It doesn’t matter if they don’t try the new food. Chances are that they won’t like it even if they do. It takes time to get used to new things and before that it’s automatically rejected as â€˜unknown’. On the other hand, if you don’t even offer it, they definitely won’t try it.
Be patient and persistent. You don’t have to offer new food at every meal time, but do it frequently.
It’s important not to put any pressure on your children to eat food. They need to feel in control of what they eat. No one likes to be coerced into doing things, not even kids. That means no bribery, no “just one more bite” no “you can have pudding when you’ve finished your veggies.” Allow them to decide what they want to eat.
Offer Healthy Food
If you offer healthy food, they can only choose from healthy food. Have regular eating times when healthy food is available. An example would be breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. If they don’t like what is on offer or don’t want to eat, that’s fine. There will be another healthy eating opportunity around the corner. You decide what you’re going to offer. Don’t be persuaded into giving cookies if you’ve chosen yogurt and fruit.
Treats are fine in moderation but moderation is the key.
Moderate hunger is not to be feared. It’s important not to teach our children to over eat.
Give them control
I don’t mean let them choose spaghetti bolognese every night for a week. You can offer choices between things. Or you can allow them to choose dinner one night a week.
You can take them shopping and let them choose some new vegetables. Or the fish from the fish counter.
You can get them to cook, not just help you but they decide what you’re going to cook. It’s their meal. My son and I made Spanish chicken last week. He chopped up all the green peppers and didn’t even pick them out at dinner time!
Whatever you decide to do, allowing them some control will reduce the stress at dinner time.
Picky eaters can be very worrisome but if you stick to these simple rules you’ll find joy will return to your family meals. And by the way, the majority of children grow out of picky eating by the age of 8. So, hang in there and keep offering them healthy food without any pressure.
Orlena is a pediatric doctor, mother of four young children and founder of the Healthy Eating for Children Course. She writes about developing healthy habits in children and has recently published her debut book “Crunch! Put a Stop to Picky Eating and Teach Your Kids to Love Veggies.” Grab a copy of her little book “Bite” for your Kindle (amazon.co.uk version here)
(affiliate links are included in this post.)