Picky eating is a common problem among parents of young children. Persuading a fussy eater to eat new foods can seem impossible, and often causes stress at meal time. No matter how old your children are, it’s not too late to improve his or her eating habits!
Follow these tips to learn how to get a picky eater to eat more adventurously.
Create a positive meal environment for your picky eater
As frustrating as it may be to deal with a picky toddler or kid, one of the best tips for fussy eaters is to do your best to keep the eating environment enjoyable. Many studies have shown that mealtime enjoyment is important for eating behavior.
Eat meals at the table all together as often as possible, and eliminate distractions like TV and cell phones. Also, try to avoid pressuring or punishing a fussy eater.
Sticking to a routine is a key tip for fussy eaters
With kids, many issues may be solved by implementing a simple routine. This is also true for parents who struggle with how to get a picky eater to eat. This study found that mealtime ritualization was associated with decreased picky eating behavior.
When kids have relatively consistent meal and snack times, they tend to eat better. Children have an innate sense of hunger, and may refuse meals because they simply are not hungry – not necessarily because they are a picky eater. A regular meal and snack routine will help your child be more hungry at meal time.
How to get a picky eater to eat starts with leading by example
Those little eyes are always watching (not in a creepy way)! Children learn and pick up eating habits by watching their caregivers.
When parents have healthy eating habits, their children are more likely to follow suit. Be a role model by having the same healthy foods you are encouraging your picky eater to eat.
Involve your fussy eater
Kids love to help. Asking your kid to help prepare their food can make them more excited to try new foods and make them less of a picky eater. Take your fussy eater grocery shopping and let him or her pick out some fruits or veggies that look interesting. Or, ask them to help toss a salad or season some veggies before dinner.
Gardening is another fun activity for kids and can be the key to discovering how to get a picky eater to eat. Even the fussiest eater will be excited to try food that he or she grows.
Don’t forget flavor when trying to get a picky eater to eat
Flavor is important for adults and should be for kids, too! Parents often avoid adding excess salt or sugar to food for their kids, and that’s great. However, we need to season food in other ways to make it taste delicious to even the fussiest eaters.
Experiment with herbs like oregano and basil. Or, try adding a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to veggies, like we do on our tasty Mac n’ Trees. This signature recipe is packed with calcium from all-natural cheeses and milk, and features parmesan broccoli that sneaks veggies into the meal in a way that any kid can love.
Let your fussy eater adjust
Perhaps the best tip for fussy eaters is to keep offering. It can take a child several attempts to adjust to a new flavor or texture.
It may be helpful to start with a dish that can easily be served mixed together or with veggies separate, like our colorful Taco Bowl. This dish is packed with flavor from the hormone-free, antibiotic-free, grass-fed beef and nutritious veggies, and is also adaptable to allow picky eaters to adjust to new flavors.
The next step in the transition to bolder flavor is to try our Bean-a-Rito. This yummy, whole-wheat tortilla is filled with gooey cheese and hidden veggies already mixed in.
Finally, think about introducing your fussy eater to bolder flavors. Our Chicken Enchilada is a flavor- and protein-packed option that includes slow cooked antibiotic-free and hormone-free white meat chicken and all-natural cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
Remember, having a picky eater on your hands is common, and it’s not too late for them to develop healthy eating habits. Be patient and try some of the tips for fussy eaters above. Your picky eater will be an adventurous diner in no time.
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