Picky eaters can be a nightmare - not only does it make meal planning difficult, but it can also give parents sleepless nights that their little ones are not getting the right amount of nutrition that growing bodies need.
This article gives you some practical advice on solving picky eating and making it a thing of the past in your family.
What type of picky eater is your child?
This may seem a strange question, but picky eating toddlers come in a few different types. Identifying where your child’s pickiness comes from and what type of eater they are can actually help you as a parent to solve it! So let’s dive in..
The ‘copycat’ picky eater
If your child sees you eating unhealthy snacks, sweets, and convenience foods, they will learn by example and copy. Ensuring you cook a freshly prepared meal and sit down as a family is a great start, at least for dinner.
Also, work on some healthy snacks and let your child see you and join in the fun. Swap out nachos and French fries for celery and carrot dippers with an olive oil dip. Use the chance to practice colors, and make some creative art on your plate while doing so!
The ‘independent’ picky eater
Even if you have made a promising start and your little one seems to be enjoying a variety of fruit, salad, seeds, and vegetables, things can quickly change. As children grow in independence, they quickly discover that one area they have control over is what they put in their mouths. This kind of picky eater is not necessarily opposed to the foods themselves but is just using it as a way to exert their newfound independence.
Providing an even more varied meal is one way around this. Try a tapas-style plate with a whole range of smaller dishes and options for your new picky eater to try. That way, they will still feel they are making the choices, but their nutritional intake will not lose out as a result. Although it may seem daunting to buy so many options, a kids meal delivery service can help you plan your menus.
The ‘spitting’ picky eater
For some picky-eating toddlers, spitting out food is a form of rebellion for not eating their food. If a taste or texture is unexpected, this can be a prime candidate for the ejector seat.
To try to combat this, chat about your food and try to enjoy it together. This can take meal times from being a fraught and tense experience to a fun time for you to all enjoy. Discuss the different tastes and textures. Challenge your fussy eater to find something crunchy on their plate, and eat it together. Then something smooth, and so on.
The ‘boring’ or ‘disgusting’ picky eater
Two of the most common kinds of picky eater are “boring” or “yucky” toddlers. Any food they do not recognize gets labeled accordingly as an easy way of avoiding trying anything new.
A great solution to this is to mix ‘boring’ or ‘disgusting’ (i.e., new!) foods with trusted favorites. Chop them up into a mixed dish with a sauce, or serve a “medley” style meal with spaghetti and meatballs. You can also try hiding the “yucky” foods, often vegetables, in “yummy” foods such as a Chicken and Pesto Sandwich.
Make healthy snacks fun
Healthy eating for picky eaters does not need to take all the fun out of eating - far from it. Some fussy eaters tend to associate healthy eating with plain, undressed salad and no snacks or treats.
A healthy balance can be easily achieved by substituting fried potato chips with cheese dip to baked potato chips with a freshly made salsa dip, for example. Or if your little fussy eater has a penchant for peanut butter, for instance, substitute bread for apple slices as a healthier vessel for their favorite spread.
It can also be fun to involve your kids in grocery shopping for some healthy foods for kids to see where their food is coming from and feel involved in the choices. Whether you shop online or in-store, this can be a way of bringing your fussy eater closer to their food.
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