It can be extremely frustrating with picky eaters. No matter what foods they try, it seems that time and time again, your kiddo is refusing to eat any food outside of their comfort zone. Thankfully, you are not alone and there is hope! Here are some tips to help your child (and yourself!) when you’re going through the ‘picky eater’ stage.
Make sure your picky eaters are coming to mealtime hungry!
Appetite plays an important role when it comes to introducing new foods. This means snack time should typically be designated and grazing, avoided. As parents, it is essential to optimize your child’s hunger at mealtime. It is not uncommon that we may become worried that our kids are not eating enough. As a result, we tend to offer many snacks throughout the day and this can lead to poor appetite at mealtimes. Aim to stick to a mealtime schedule so your child shows up to meals and snacks hungry and ready to eat!
Do not force little bites or tastes.
Pushing your child to take bites or tastes of a food they do not like or are not familiar with can only exacerbate the aversion as many picky eaters have anxiety around foods. Instead, use “can” phrases such as “You can try some if you’d like” or “You can pick it up with your fork”. Also, regularly offering new foods will help a child to get acquainted with the sight and smells of the particular food. Lastly, you can pair new and “safe” foods together. This helps the new food look less intimidating. For example, if there is a dip that your child likes, offer it with the vegetable your family is having for dinner to get the ball rolling.
Never Give up With Picky Eaters!
Do not give up on food introductions! It may feel like there is no end, but studies have shown that a typical child may need to be introduced to a food up to 15 times before they are comfortable with it (often more!). The key to success is patience and persistence.
Try Different Texture and Flavors.
Pay attention to textures and flavors they may like or not like. Incorporating textures in new and fun ways is a great way to expose them to new foods differently.
- If they like crispy, think about investing in an air fryer.
- If they do not like mushy textures, you can try raw, crunchy veggies, for example.
- If they like a particular flavor, add it to the meal! For example, if your child loves cheese, you can add a little organic melted cheese to broccoli or inside some meatballs.
Get Your Kids Involved in the Kitchen.
The more empowerment they have, the more likely they are to eat the food. Have them choose recipes they want to try (make sure to “healthify” them if you have the chance). The more fun you can have in the kitchen with your kids, the better! Another trick you can try is to pretend you are on a cooking show and film the process. Feel free to get creative with it.
Check Your Child’s Food Sensitivities.
Your child may not like something because it actually makes them feel yucky! Food sensitivities are not true allergies, but they can still cause symptoms like GI discomfort, headaches, joint pain and more. You can test for sensitivities here at Five Journeys! Give us a call to learn more, or to set up an appointment with one of our functional dietitian nutritionists.
More resources to check out:
- Our dietitians highly recommend this book, particularly for the young kiddos who have issues with textures and getting in their veggies! https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Veggieland-Vegetables_with-Activities-Recipes/dp/1615194061
- The Adventurous Eaters Club Cookbook https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YKXK79H
- Podcast → Momables Podcast- Extreme Picky Eaters with Katja Rowell – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/extreme-picky-eaters-with-katja-rowell-s2e10/id912267937?i=1000342654227
These tips are geared towards the typical “picky eater”. If you notice your child has extreme strong aversions to food, consider speaking with a child therapist. Please reach out to a Five Journeys team member if you need recommendations or more support.