Tips for Feeding Your Picky Eater

I Hate Peas! Six Tips for Feeding Your Picky Eater a Balanced Diet

Most children have at least one food that is an absolute no-go: you put it on their plate and they push it as far away from themselves as possible. That’s pretty normal. Most adults have foods they’re not fans of. But what if your child hates just about everything? We’ve compiled a list of tips to help keep even the pickiest eater as healthy as possible.

Set a good example.

If you want your child to drink a full glass of milk at dinner instead of a soda, you should be willing to forfeit whatever you usually drink for your own tall glass of milk. “Do as I say, not as I do” is never a good way to set an example. Making healthy choices in your own diet will help reinforce their importance to your child.

Get creative.

Why not add veggies to your marinara sauce when you serve spaghetti? Fresh fruit makes a great cereal topping, and can also be served as dessert. Hiding vegetables in other dishes certainly won’t teach your child to like their veggies, but it will ensure that they’re actually eating some.

Involve your child in the process.

Let your child help decide what to make for dinner. Discuss what the meal needs to include in order to be healthy and balanced. You could even let your child help you shop for or prepare the food – stirring, washing veggies, and even setting the table. They’ll probably be much more open to trying something they helped buy or cook.

Be patient.

Often, it may take time for a child (or even an adult) to get used to a new food’s taste or texture. If you’re not sure how your child will react to a new dish you’re serving, plan to serve it alongside one of their favorite foods. Don’t be discouraged if he or she doesn’t even try what you prepared – it can take repeated exposure to a food before a child will even try it for the first time.

Don’t use food as a reward.

On the surface, it makes sense to threaten to withhold dessert until your stubborn son or daughter finishes their broccoli. However, doing this sends a message that dessert food is the best food, which may only increase your child’s desire for sweets. Instead, offer positive reinforcement as a reward – praise and encourage your child to try new foods and make healthy choices.

Don’t offer special treatment for a picky eater.

If you whip up a separate dish or meal for your child after he or she rejects what you originally cooked, this will only continue to enable picky eating habits. The only food your child has to choose from for dinner is the food that you made and set out on the table. Additionally, ensure that all family members are present for the entire meal. This means that even if your picky child isn’t eating anything, they shouldn’t be excused from the table.

YMCA Dallas is committed to helping kids develop healthier habits that last a lifetime – healthy kids are more likely to grow into healthy adults. Keep an eye out for more information about our upcoming Healthy Kids Day on April 28!

How do you feed your picky eater? Any tips or tricks you’ve developed? Leave us a comment to let us know!

Authored by: YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas