7 Strategies for Picky Eaters
Welcome back to my series on how to overcome picky eating at in your home!! Part Two. This part of my four part series is going to jump right into strategies for those picky eaters at home. Now keep in mind what works for one may not work for another and you may find that you have to circle back to one a few times. BUT forward movements with picky eaters are forward movement!
1. Create a "Like’s List" you are constantly adding to with your child. This is a list that goes on the fridge and there is positive enforcement around new adds! I have one I use at home you can download in session 3 of this series.
2. Plan Meals together, especially dinner!! Allowing your child input into the family’s menu will help to reduce stubbornness around meals. I find it useful for families with picky eaters to have a favourite meal list on the fridge, so they can remember all of the things they do like to eat.
3. Create parameters that you challenge your child to stay within. I find allowing my children the space to choose a meal of the week that fits in our family healthy eating parameters is a great way to teach them about healthy eating. For example you may have a parameter of 2 vegetables, one protein and one complex carbohydrate with dinner. This teaches children about food groups and helps them narrow the field on their own to what works in each food type. For example, whole grain pasta with tomato sauce and peppers and diced chicken breast, plus a salad would meet the above parameters. Children love to problem solve, share with them the parameters and give them permission to make choices that fit within them!
4. Celebrate small successes! A win, is a win when it comes to healthy eating and picky eaters. Be sure to add new foods to likes list right away, and add new meals they tried and love to their meal list as well. I love allowing my children to pick something new from the produce section. We take our new find home try it, and determine if we can add it to the likes list or not. And believe me if they are under 16, they will play this game! I love seeing moms who create sticker charts and recognize all little accomplishments!!
5. Allow them to shop! When heading the grocery store, give you child the list (if they are old enough), or talk to younger children about the healthy items you need to find and buy. This is a wonderful learning experience, and creates conversations around healthy vs. unhealthy foods!
6. Allow your children to participate in food prep. Did you know children are more likely to eat what they grow, and what they prepare? Its true!! You will find even the toughest of the pickiest will try a bite, if they take pride in preparing it. Healthy meal prep is an essential life skill, and children love to be in the kitchen with us!! I started all my children by allowing them to help me gather ingredients and have a stool at the counter to watch as I shared what I was doing. Helping measure, and pour is super fun for little ones. Once they are a bit older teach them how to use a peeler and peel potatoes and carrots. Showing them how to chop and make a recipe form start to finish helps break down picky eating barriers, as they know all ingredients and how much work went into a meal!
7. Make smoothies part of the routine!! As a Nutritionist and mom I love watching my children drink a smoothie that has organic berries, vegan protein (we use Juice Plus Complete) and spinach or kale hidden in it. Some mom’s share that their little ones do not like the texture of smoothies, I suggest that they take some time to play with consistency to see if you can overcome that. I find chocolate almond milk, our Complete and a frozen banana is very milkshake like. If your child absolutely will not drink a smoothie you can make one in advanced and freeze into fruity popsicles!! Smoothies are a concentrated drink of plant foods!! Its moms and dads secret weapon!
Stay Tuned for Part 3 and the Tools I have for you!!
Alisa Herriman has been researching and teaching Nutrition since 2003. Leaving her job in the health care industry to share her passion for healthy living, Alisa travels all over Canada sharing her mission and teaching communities how to prevent and fight disease with Nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.