Picky eaters are nothing new, but it’s especially common with young children. Research shows that almost half of young children are described as picky eaters by their parents at some point. Despite this behavior being normal, it can still be frustrating when serving children a healthy meal they refuse to eat. So what are you to do? Here are five tips we picked up during Nutrition Month in March, and at Produce for Better Health – The Consumer Connection:
- Get kids involved: Familiarizing children with different foods away from the table is a great way to encourage them to accept new foods on their plate. Do this by letting your children pick out fruits and veggies at the store, having them help prep, and even gardening with them which has additional benefits.
- Think beyond taste: It can be easy to forget that there’s more than one part to flavor – look, texture, and smell are important too! Try offering a utensil, cutting up food into smaller pieces, and cooking with brightly colored foods to encourage eating.
- Be patient: Kids may need to be offered a food 15 times before they will taste it. Offering new foods along with ones kids recognize, or serving it in different ways may help decrease the number of times you need to present a new food.
- Set a good example: Kids learn from those around them; eating together as a family models table manners, utensil use and shows them that you like to eat healthy too. Plus, family meals have many benefits when kids get older, and are a great habit to get into. Removing distractions, like watching TV, will help kids learn to eat more mindfully, and can do the same for you!
- Relax: If your kid is healthy and growing as expected then they are likely getting enough of what they need at meals. While it is up to you to decide which healthy foods are served, when they are served and where, trust your child to know what and how much food they need.
Picky eating is just a phase in nearly two thirds of kids, and is a normal part of growing up. Young children are learning a lot of different things, including what foods they enjoy. While it may be frustrating, try to remember: this too will (likely) pass.