I used to think that having a child who was a picky eater was a sign of a lazy parent. Then, I had children of my own and realized I was wrong. Some kids are just born picky, like some of us are born talkative. Some kids are born with sophisticated palettes. The thing is though, everyone needs a healthy, balanced diet in order to grow up strong.
So what are parents of picky eaters to do? Are we doomed to count ketchup and french fries as our children’s only source of vegetables? No! Read on for some tips on how to help the picky children (and adults) in your life eat a well-balanced diet.
Meals are a Family Affair: Mealtime is not just about eating. It’s about planning meals, shopping for ingredients, and preparing food. Kids will be more likely to try new foods (yes, even healthy ones) if they are involved in all stages of mealtime. Young kids can lend a hand peeling carrots and tearing lettuce. Older children can take more responsibility for planning and preparing entire meals.
Be a Good Role Model: I like Cheetos as much as the next mom, but if that’s all my kids see me eat how can I expect them to adopt healthy eating habits themselves? Remember to include fruits, vegetables, and lean protein selections on your own plate and over time your kids will notice. Be bold in trying new foods yourself, and let your kids watch as you bite a rutabaga for the first time. The more adventurous you are, the more they will be too.
Pickiness Isn’t Everything: It can be easy as a parent to get stressed out about what our kids will and won’t eat even before dinnertime starts. Believe me, no one is going to enjoy mealtime when mom or dad are anxious. Try to do your work combating pickiness (by doing the above, for example) and then let the time around the table be a time to relax. Avoid games or ultimatums about food. By making mealtime as pleasant and relaxing as possible, your children will be more likely to try and enjoy new, wholesome foods.
As you try new strategies and techniques around mealtime, remember that change can take a while. Resist the temptation to expect your kid’s palette to change overnight. It may take a few weeks to notice a broader acceptance of foods.
For more tips on making the most of dinnertime, visit http://www.drstephaniesmith.com/?p=370